Headingley future again in doubt
The future of Headingley has again been thrown into doubt after the local council unexpectedly stalled on financing Yorkshire's planned purchase of the ground, just two weeks after appearing to come to an agreement.
The county has agreed to buy the venue for £12million to comply with one of the ECB's requirements for grounds wishing to host England matches. But the move depends on Leeds City Council providing a loan of £9million.
The financing was expected to be rubber-stamped this week but the council's executive board has decided it needs stronger guarantees on repayment. Mark Harris, the council leader, said: "It is public funds we are talking about and it would be irresponsible for us to accept what is currently on the table."
In a statement Yorkshire said: "This is a position which the club understands and we shall therefore employ every endeavour on our side to ensure that agreement is reached in the course of the days ahead. Since we have already reached agreement on all matters of principle, the club believes that the remaining points of detail can be resolved quickly and without difficulty."
Yorkshire now face a race against time to secure the financing and complete the purchase of Headingley, which is currently rented from the owners of the adjacent rugby club, by the end of the year. If they do not they will invalidate an agreement with the ECB under which Headingley was assured of the right to host England matches for the next 15 years, provided they took ownership of the ground by 2006. Yorkshire plan to increase the ground's capacity from 17,000 to 20,000 with significant developments of the Grandstand and Kirkstall Lane ends.