County news March 28, 2017

Headingley future assured after council reaches funding agreement

ESPNcricinfo staff

Without council support, Headingley could have been stripped of the right to host international cricket © Getty Images

Headingley's future as a Test venue appears to have been assured, following a funding agreement between Yorkshire and Leeds City Council over the redevelopment of the ground's rugby stand that has served a dual purpose for cricket and rugby clubs over the past 84 years.

Without the agreement, the ground's future would have been in immediate peril. The club, already £24 million in debt, required council support to fulfil their £17 million share of a £32 million joint redevelopment with Leeds Rhinos, without which, the ECB had indicated, the ground could not be awarded any international fixtures beyond 2019.

Now, however, Leeds City Council has brokered a £35m investment from a London-based investment group, subject to final approval by the authority's executive board. The investors have proposed to build the new stands and rent them back to the cricket and rugby clubs.

The agreement follows a sizeable public outcry following the council's decision to withdraw the promise of a £4m grant to Yorkshire as it drew up its £2bn budget in a febrile atmosphere in which central government cutbacks sparked an internal row within the ruling Labour group over the closure of three are homes.

Yorkshire were also at loggerheads over the proposed term of any private loan which councils are able to obtain at preferential rates compared to the open market.

"I'm delighted we've found a solution that will ensure Headingley continues to enjoy full international sporting status," Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, said.

"Subject to the final approval of the council's executive board, this will deliver the funding to redevelop the stadium in full. The money will be provided by a private financial services company at no cost to the council tax payer, which offers the best and most viable option moving forward."

Mark Arthur, Yorkshire's chief executive, said: "We would like to thank councillor Judith Blake and Leeds City Council for their support in reaching this point. There is still a way to go, however, it is a significant step in securing the future of international cricket at Headingley.

"Yorkshire County Cricket Club will continue to work hard to ensure that all remaining funds are in place to ensure that the redevelopment is completed in time for the Cricket World Cup in 2019."

Gary Hetherington, chief executive of Leeds Rhinos, added: "We have been working closely with Leeds City Council and partners to find a solution to ensure international sport continues at Headingley Carnegie for many years to come and we appreciate all the effort and commitment put in by Leeds City Council to broker this deal.

"There is still much to do but recent developments are very encouraging and could provide the funding mechanism to complete the redevelopment work."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Nutcutlet on March 29, 2017, 20:11 GMT

    Thanks, Bruv! I did know that, and I can't think of a time when I didn't! But will the overseas players understand its significance? Does it matter? To a hired gun the team might just as well be called the Crimson Tulip. The very word "Yorkshire" - the county name itself, not the emblem most readily connected with Yorkshire- is, without question, the pre-eminent county in the history of the CC the *County* team I have known all my life. I see calling a team that plays at Headingley anything other than Yorkshireas something that offends me deeply. The next county name that might lose its mystique is the one I have followed for sixty years: Surrey - again a County name that is evocative of a distinguished history ( I've just been dipping into a book about Bobby Abel, btw) - now, 'by the same token' as the expression goes, "Surrey" might well morph into the Prince of Wales Feathers (another pub name!) or even just The Princes! I loathe this sly move away from the great county names!

  • bruvvereccles94 on March 29, 2017, 18:07 GMT

    I think brother Nutcutlet needs some help: you see, the White Rose is the symbol of Yorkshire, and was very important in English history 700 years ago; thus the symbol pervades all Yorkshire, from Huddersfield to Whitby to Hull to, er, Ingleborough. Durham as a first-class county was of course brutally treated by an ECB which doesn't really like county cricket. Finally, for some reason best known to Strauss of Middlesex, the Yorkshire test players are not allowed to play for their county very often, unlike almost all the others.

  • GeoffreysMother on March 29, 2017, 6:15 GMT

    EADEZEE - what have Bradman, Botham and Broad to do with it ?! Think Hutton, Sutcliffe, Verity, Trueman, Rhodes!

  • Eadezee on March 28, 2017, 19:24 GMT

    The day when Headingley is no longer a Test venue will be the day they sound the death knell for english cricket as a real working man's game. Just think of the great deeds that have been done there? From Bradman to Boycott to Botham to Broad, an English arena of cricketing history.

  • Nutcutlet on March 28, 2017, 12:31 GMT

    I sense a round or two being bought by Graves for one or two of his London clique. This fix didn't come out of thin air. I wonder if Botham can induce some of his connections to do something for poor old Durham (much less culpable than Yorks, IMO) - but it's a tad late for that after Harrison stuck the boot in a good few times last autumn. The wonder of connections, eh? Makes the world a fairer place! Good news for Headingley of course. Now they can have the new stand ready for the 2020 20/20 plastic comp. The "White Rose" team (sounds like the darts team from a pub off the M62) comprising players from here, there and everywhere - but no current Yorkshire Test players.

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