Former Yorkshire head coach Andrew Gale wins unfair dismissal claim against club after Azeem Rafiq scandal

Yorkshire’s former head coach Andrew Gale has won an unfair dismissal claim against the club after he was sacked in the wake of the Azeem Rafiq scandal

Published

An employment judge ruled that Gale and five other former members of Yorkshire’s staff had a “well founded” case in a decision published this week and said the matter will now move on to what remedies can be agreed or imposed.

But the club issued a statement on Wednesday saying that, while it acknowledges the judge’s view “that no disciplinary process was followed”, there has been no judgment on the reasons for the dismissals and “the club’s firm view is that the dismissals were necessary and justified”.

Gale, 38, was one of 16 members of staff sacked in the wake of the controversy which engulfed Yorkshire following accusations by bowler Rafiq which rocked English cricket.

Yorkshire last year accepted Rafiq had been subjected to racial harassment and bullying but initially elected against taking any action against their employees, leading to widespread criticism.

Yorkshire County Cricket Club
Yorkshire County Cricket Club
Azeem Rafiq
Azeem Rafiq

This week’s decision by employment judge Joanna Wade also involves bowling coach Rich Pyrah, academy lead Richard Damms, second-team coach Ian Dews, and strength and conditioning coaches Ian Fisher and Peter Sim.

The judge said in a brief statement: “The claimants’ complaints of unfair dismissal are well founded.”

She added: “Remedy and any other complaints proceed to hearing unless otherwise resolved.”

There were no further details in the decision which was made on May 23 following a private hearing but only published on Tuesday.

Yorkshire County Cricket Club said in a statement: “The club acknowledges the judgment that no disciplinary process was followed, which it has accepted in order to minimise the tribunal time taken up by these cases.

“At this preliminary stage, the tribunal has not made any judgment on the reasons for dismissal and the club’s firm view is that the dismissals were necessary and justified.”

Gale played for Yorkshire as a batsman for more than a decade before becoming first-team coach in 2016.

He was suspended in November after a tweet emerged which he posted in 2010.

The widespread condemnation of Yorkshire over their treatment of Rafiq had huge repercussions for the club last year, including a flood of departures of staff and directors as well as sponsors pulling out and their Headingley Stadium in Leeds being stripped of its lucrative international fixtures.

The fallout provoked widespread debate about the extent of racism within the game as a whole.

In December, the club announced a clear-out of their entire coaching team, including Gale and long-serving director of cricket Martyn Moxon.

Gale stated at the time he would take legal action over his dismissal, saying in a statement to BBC Sport: “The decision has come as a surprise to me. The players knew about it before I did and I will be fighting the decision legally.”

These departures followed those of club president Roger Hutton and chief executive Mark Arthur.

Both Gale and Moxon had been heavily criticised at a Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) hearing at Westminster as Rafiq repeated his call for them to step down from their roles at the club.

Lord Patel was installed as the new chairman of the club six months ago and tasked with overseeing wholesale cultural and structural changes.

Last month, Lord Patel saluted “an overwhelming vote for positive change” as reforms were approved by club members to pave the way for Headingley to stage England matches this summer.

Hosting internationals provides a significant chunk of Yorkshire’s revenue and Headingley will now host England in a Test against New Zealand later this month and South Africa in a one-day international in July.