The future of Headingley looks set to be solved after preliminary talks saw an agreement which will provide funds required to redevelop Headingley Carnegie Stadium. The decision will allow Headingley to continue being a Test ground from 2020 onwards.
With the city council already withdrawing the £4m grant offered earlier, Yorkshire are looking to borrow money for the rest of the project. This came after pressure within the local area which faces massive cuts and around 2,000 job losses over the next four years.
With the club having to find £17m to finance its share of the work, Yorkshire will be hoping to finalise talks swiftly with the stand at the Football End no longer meeting modern requirements by the ECB and will consign them to lose the four matches it is due to host in the 2019 World Cup. ECB chief executive, Tom Harrison has already touted London Stadium as a possible replacement.
If given the go-ahead, the funding will come from a private financial services company, and will be at no cost to the council taxpayer.
Councillor Judith Blake, the leader of Leeds City Council was delighted. “We’ve found a solution that will ensure Headingley continues to enjoy full international sporting status. 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.”
Yorkshire are already encumbered in debt with almost £25m owed to a trust fund set up by ECB chairman Colin Graves. ECB have shown counties that it will not be a last resort option and Durham felt the full force when they were bailed out by the governing body. Durham were stripped of Test Status and relegated to division 2. They were also docked points in all competitions.
Yorkshire CCC chief executive, Mark Arthur 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.”
With a significant step in the right direction for Yorkshire, and will be hoping Headingley doesn’t follow suit and leave Lancashire as the only Test ground in north of England. It could also jeopardise their position to host one of the eight teams in the new T20 tournament set out by the ECB.
Yorkshire, who are also considering the possibility of finding a naming-rights sponsor for Headingley, very much like Lancashire’s deal with Emirates which is believed to worth close to £10m. Potential clients and sponsors will be hope the future on international cricket will be guaranteed after concerns seem to be have short-lived.
Further information details on this agreement will be provided by the council on April 12th.