YORKSHIRE are planning to step up their efforts to persuade Geoffrey Boycott to become their first global ambassador after succeeding in their bid to keep him off the board.
Yorkshire chairman Steve Denison said the club are “desperately keen” for Boycott to take on an ambassadorial role after the club’s members heeded his request to reject Boycott’s attempt to become a board member.
Denison wrote to them ahead of Saturday’s annual meeting at Headingley, warning that Boycott was a potentially destabilising and disruptive influence whose appointment would “not be in the best interests of the club”.
Members voted against the former Yorkshire and England opening batsman by a margin of 758 to 602 in a postal ballot that Malcolm Guy, the Yorkshire member who co-ordinated Boycott’s nomination, claimed had been incorrectly conducted under club rules and potentially “interfered with”.
Guy’s claim was shot down at the meeting and described as “insulting” by Denison, who insisted it was “a fair and open vote”.
There is no love lost between the respective sides, but Denison feels that Boycott, 75, has a role to play as a global ambassador, a role that Boycott believes he performs in any case.
“We’re desperately keen for Geoffrey to be an ambassador,” said Denison. “We want everybody in the club to be playing to their strengths, and his strength is in that ambassadorial role, shouting about Yorkshire County Cricket Club around the world and bringing people into the ground at Headingley, particularly on international days.
“I’ve been talking to him about it for a long time, and I think what we haven’t done is explore the practicalities. He’s a really busy man – he’s around the world, he’s got his broadcasting commitments, so we want to sit down with him and hear from him what would work best for Geoffrey Boycott, and then we will do our best to accommodate that.”
Boycott, who attended the annual meeting and mingled with members in a packed Long Room, did not discuss Malcolm Guy’s allegations – previously voiced in The Yorkshire Post, and dismissed by the club – that the voting process was flawed.
However, he repeated that he was in the dark as to what the ambassador role entailed.
“I know nothing about it,” said Boycott. “I’ve asked him (Denison) what he means, and I’ve had no answer. I’ve never had an answer.”
Commenting on the election result, Boycott said: “I didn’t put up to win or lose. I thought I could do some good for the club.
“To all those people who voted for me, thank you, and to those that didn’t, I just want everybody to know that I love the club.
“It’s been part of my life for 60 years. I love its history, its traditions, and I know many of the members personally, and I just wanted to put some points and views across to help.”
Boycott said the result did not diminish that affection or his desire to keep watching the team.
“It’s not going to change anything,” he stressed. “I’ll be watching and supporting the team as I’ve always done. We have a very good set of players, we’ve got an excellent coach, good management behind the scenes, they’re a pleasure to watch.
“I’ll be here for the first match of the season. I’ve already booked to go to Scarborough. It falls in nicely that I’m not commentating. So disappointment (at the election result), but nothing’s changed.”
Denison denied that the board felt vindicated by Boycott’s defeat and said the matter was now closed from the club’s point of view.
“I don’t think it’s so much a vindication of the board,” he said. “I think it’s what the members want.
“Every member had the ability to vote, for or against, any of the board nominees. Forty per cent of them – which is a miles bigger turnout than probably we’ve ever had before in recent times – chose to vote, and they cast their votes in the direction they did.
“The matter is closed from the club’s point of view, and hopefully it is from Geoffrey’s point of view as well.
“He’s a legend of the club, and we want to see him at Headingley at every possible opportunity. He will always be welcome here. Let’s hope that’s what happens going forward.”
Members supported the board’s recommendation that club chief executive Mark Arthur and Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Sir Gary Verity should join the board, and that Robin Smith be re-elected.
Former Yorkshire and England batsman John Hampshire was confirmed as president in succession to Dickie Bird, with Charlotte Evers re-elected to the members’ committee and long-standing club official David Ryder made a vice-president.