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June 9, 2011
The date has been set for the hearing that will decide Old Trafford's future as a Test match ground. The Court of Appeal will hear the case against Lancashire's planned ground redevelopment on July 4, a day that the chief executive Jim Cumbes has called "a day of destiny".
"The future prospects for the club will rest on the decision, make no mistake," said Cumbes. "We are confident of winning and bringing to an end a protracted legal process which has been draining the club financially and preventing us from transforming our ageing ground and facilities."
The club's long-running legal battle with Derwent Holdings, the rival company trying to block the development plans for the area around Lancashire's home ground, had appeared to be at an end in March when the High Court ruled in Lancashire's favour and refused Derwent leave to appeal but the company, owned by billionaire Albert Gubay, made it clear they would seek to take the case further.
Tesco, the supermarket chain, are backing Lancashire's plans and building a store in nearby White City while contributing £21million to the cost. Their joint planning application was approved in March last year, and at the same planning meeting Derwent, who own the White City retail park, had a scheme to build a Sainsbury's at the site refused. Derwent argued that Trafford Council applied double standards in refusing its plans.
Derwent's repeated legal challenges created great uncertainty for Lancashire's plans, but the first part of the redevelopment was completed last year with the opening of the The Point, a large red complex to the side of the pavilion, and continued over the winter with the turning of the square 90 degrees to prevent problems caused by the setting sun in autumn.
New floodlights are being installed and Cumbes said the four 53metre-high pylons would be in place in time for England's Twenty20 match against India in August. If Lancashire are successful on July 4, the club is hopeful that all the renovations will be completed in time to host an Ashes Test in 2013.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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