Azeem Akhtar, the new chair of Essex, has stepped down after just three days in the role, ahead of an independent review into his social media activity.
Instead, however, the club has been plunged back into turmoil, following revelations in the Jewish Chronicle that Akhtar had ‘liked’ anti-Semitic posts on Twitter, including one that compared Israel to Nazi Germany.
He had been due to take over from John Stephenson, the chief executive who has been interim chair since Faragher’s departure last November. However, Sir Stephen O’Brien, Akhtar’s deputy, will now stand in as interim.
“I have taken the decision today to voluntarily step aside as chair of Essex County Cricket Club while an independent review takes place into recent matters that have been raised,” Akhtar said in a club statement.
“I have made the decision to initiate this review because it is important that I as Chair and Essex County Cricket Club more widely hold ourselves to the highest standards of governance and accountability. By stepping aside, I want to show leadership and ensure the club can focus on the ongoing challenges it is tackling.
“I am resolutely committed to ensuring that Essex County Cricket Club is an inclusive and welcoming environment for people of all backgrounds.”
In the wake of Azeem Rafiq’s whistleblowing testimony about his treatment at Yorkshire, Essex had also been implicated in separate racism allegations, with former players Maurice Chambers, Zoheb Sharif and Jahid Ahmed all stating that they were victims of abuse during their playing days. A report on those claims is expected after the club appointed an independent QC to investigate.