Leeds & West Yorkshire

Headingley Stadium delay could hit international cricket and rugby league

The proposed new cricket stand at night Image copyright Leeds Rugby
Image caption The new combined stand would serve both cricket and rugby supporters

Yorkshire County Cricket Club has said Headingley Stadium could lose cricket Test matches at the venue after a delay in a £38m plan to renovate the stadium.

Leeds Rhinos Rugby League club wants to sell land to housing developers to fund the project but has been held up by "complex planning matters".

Headingley Stadium hosts cricket, rugby league and rugby union.

Yorkshire County Cricket Club (YCCC) has expressed "deep concerns" over the delay.

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The plans include a new South Stand on the rugby ground and a new joint stand overlooking both the rugby pitch and cricket ground.

Image caption The plan was to sell greenbelt land in Weetwood and Tingley

Work was due to start in January with the demolition of the rugby South Stand.

The plan was to sell greenbelt land owned by Leeds Rhinos in Weetwood and Tingley in Leeds to housing developers to raise money for the stadium.

Leeds-born TV writer Kay Mellor has lent her support to protests against selling the land.

Leeds Rhinos said it was "desperately disappointed" by the delay but was hopeful the scheme would start in the "near future".

'Critical deadline'

Without the improved stadium international cricket could be lost until 2024, YCCC said.

Mark Arthur, chief executive of YCCC, said a delay starting the South Stand redevelopment would have a "knock-on effect" on plans for improving the joint stand.

He said: "We are in danger of missing our critical deadline of hosting (cricket) world cup matches in 2019 and thereafter international cricket at Headingley."

The English Cricket Board is due to allocate the latest tranche of international matches in 2017, said YCCC.

The cricket club also said the project was essential for the financial sustainability of the club and could bring £5m a year to the Yorkshire economy.

Image caption The Rhinos said the stadium could also lose out on hosting Rugby League World Cup matches in 2021

The Rhinos said the stadium could also lose out on hosting Rugby League World Cup matches in 2021, when the tournament is due to be played in England.

Gary Hetherington, chief executive of Leeds Rhinos, said: "To do so we have to improve our facilities, If that's not to be achieved the city will lose out."

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