Cumbria

Workington Rugby League World Cup withdrawal 'lost opportunity'

Artist's impression of the proposed 8,000-capacity stadium in Workington Image copyright Allerdale Borough Council
Image caption Supporters of the scheme say it would increase attendances for Workington Reds and Workington Town

Rugby League World Cup games will not be staged in west Cumbria in 2021 after the council officially told organisers it would not have a suitable stadium.

The announcement by Allerdale Borough Council follows its decision last week to reconsider plans for an 8,000-capacity facility in Workington.

The new council executive has warned the scheme poses a "considerable financial risk".

World Cup chiefs described it as a "lost opportunity for west Cumbria".

Allerdale council said it was "extremely disappointed" Workington would no longer host three World Cup matches and a team base camp, but said work to reduce the size and scale of the stadium proposal meant it could no longer meet the tournament's requirements.

The borough's successful bid was dependent on the creation of the arena on the site of the ageing Borough Park.

That facility is shared by Workington Reds football club and Workington Town rugby league team, and both sides would have been based at the new ground.

Right decision 'important'

Council leader Marion Fitzgerald, an independent, said the authority would move forward with "alternative plans for sporting facilities in the borough".

She added: "We are naturally disappointed the World Cup will not be able to come to the area now and understand the excitement and benefits it would've brought.

"However, it is important we get a decision of this scale right for every person in Allerdale and fully consider the business case for a new facility."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The proposed stadium would replace Borough Park

Jon Dutton, chief executive of the tournament, said: "We're obviously very disappointed by the news and we do feel that it's a lost opportunity for west Cumbria.

"We wish the council the best of luck with their revised project and I am confident that community clubs across west Cumbria will continue to see the benefits of RLWC2021 via our legacy programme, InspirationALL."

Earlier this year council officers said the project would be a "catalyst for wider regeneration", with the potential to generate £239m income over its 50-year lifespan.

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