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Yorkshire appoints ex-Wasps chief as new CEO

Featured image credit: Yorkshire CCC

Yorkshire County Cricket Club has appointed Stephen Vaughan, formerly of Premiership rugby union club Wasps, as its new chief executive.

Vaughan will officially begin the role on November 7 and joins after three years at Wasps Group, which he joined in August 2019 as chief executive of sports businesses.

He became group chief executive in 2020, with additional responsibility for venues, overseeing the naming-rights deal for the Coventry Building Society Arena and the return of Championship football club Coventry City to the stadium.

During his time at Wasps, Vaughan was responsible for the rollout of a comprehensive equality, diversity and inclusion strategy. He joins Yorkshire after Wasps was last month placed into administration due to financial issues.

Vaughan also joins Yorkshire after the club was relegated from the first division of the County Championship. Last year, the club was barred from hosting international or major matches at Headingley due to its handling of an internal investigation into racism.

Publishing group Emerald, which sponsored the stadium, withdrew its backing following the release of details from a report concerning the treatment of former player Azeem Rafiq. Headingley later retained its international status after club members passed three special resolutions as part of reform efforts, while India-based global streaming platform Clean Slate Studioz was added as the new principal sponsor of the stadium. 

It emerged yesterday (Wednesday) that a hearing into the racism scandal will be held in public following a request from Rafiq. The hearing is set to get underway at the end of the month.

Vaughan said: “Yorkshire County Cricket Club is one of the most iconic sporting institutions in the world and it’s truly an honour to take up this position. Without shying away from the significant challenges we have faced over the past year, there are many reasons to be optimistic about the future, both on and off the pitch. I had a number of offers, but the opportunity to lead this club back to the forefront of English cricket and realise our full potential was very attractive.

“The club is hugely important in the region with a massive fan base of loyal members who want to see us get back to where we should be. Working alongside the newly installed board I am determined to deliver sporting success at Headingley and produce exceptional results, underpinned by robust commercial foundations and our vision to make Yorkshire Cricket a place for everyone. I am looking forward to meeting members over the coming weeks and leading this club forward. I can’t wait to get started.”

Lord Kamlesh Patel, chair of Yorkshire County Cricket Club, added: “We’re delighted to welcome Stephen to the club as the outstanding candidate in a highly talented field. With years of knowledge and experience working across various disciplines within sport he will bring a huge amount of expertise to Yorkshire County Cricket Club. His proven track record and business acumen will be vital to our future success.

“Stephen’s openness in dealing with challenging conditions at Wasps in the wake of COVID demonstrates the strength of character that will be vital to the ongoing transformation of the club. I look forward to working with him as we continue on our rebuilding journey.”

Vaughan was a footballer for Walsall and later served as managing director of Thomas Cook London 2012, where he led the company’s involvement with the Olympic and Paralympic Games in the English capital. He also spent seven years at Gloucester Rugby and served on the Premiership Rugby board.

Yorkshire also confirmed that Darren Gough has been permanently appointed as managing director of the club. He has held the role on an interim basis since late 2021.