Council vows to progress plans for Community Stadium
Wakefield Council has
today (Thursday 2 November) vowed to continue progressing the plans for a new
community stadium in the district – despite the owners of Wakefield Trinity
halting talks last week after refusing to pay a reasonable rent.
The partnership of Wakefield Council, 88m Group and Yorkcourt Properties have
now pledged to carry on developing the proposal to provide a top-class
sporting, concert and conferencing facility for the community.
The Deputy Leader of
Wakefield Council, Cllr Denise Jeffery said: “We all have a great opportunity
to deliver a first-class sporting and entertainment stadium for all our
residents. A new community facility could give a real boost to so many sports
clubs and groups, not just in the city but also in the wider area, including
hockey, netball, football and rugby across a range of age groups and covering
both men and women’s games.
“It would be absolutely fantastic to have our much-loved rugby league club as
tenants, and one of the key drivers of the proposal we have worked hard to put
together was to keep Wakefield Trinity in this city. But, it simply cannot work
unless there is a fair, deliverable and sustainable business plan and deal in
“We are very saddened that the club owners are choosing not to have the new
stadium as their home. However, based on the value the facility could add to
our sporting community we feel it is our duty to progress the plans and are
keen to hear from any sports clubs who would be interested in using the new
stadium so that we can try and incorporate their needs when developing the
Last month, Wakefield Council agreed to look at lease/funding options to enable
the owner of the land to deliver the development as quickly as possible. This
would have ensured that Wakefield Trinity could play the 2018 Super League
season in the new ground, as tenants. As part of this proposal, which the
owners of Wakefield Trinity agreed to in principle on 20 September, the club
would pay a normal rent, as one of the stadium’s tenants. The facility would be
run and managed by an independent charitable Trust.
The club were offered all income on match days, including all ticket sales, all
banquet, restaurant and bars and hospitality boxes. The club would have
priority use of the stadium for match days and full access to the ticket
office, bars, restaurants and changing facilities along with day-to-day access
to the fitness centre and physiotherapy suite.
However, last week the owners submitted their own ‘heads of terms’ for the deal
which insisted they retain sole control over the community stadium’s income and
operations, whilst still offering nothing towards the capital costs of the
development and refusing to pay a normal commercial rent.
88m Group and the Council were forced to decline these as unworkable and could
have put the legal status of any Trust at risk. Wakefield Trinity’s owners then
walked away from the talks, stating they were ‘proceeding with alternative arrangements’.
Today’s announcement from Wakefield Council comes as the owner of the Belle Vue
ground, 88m Group, is asking Wakefield Trinity to clarify their future playing
arrangements. In February 2017, the Chairman of Wakefield Trinity, Michael
Carter, gave notice to quit the Belle Vue site in December 2017. To date, this
notice has not been rescinded nor has any contact been made by the club to
negotiate a different position with the landowner – despite his numerous verbal
offers for the club to remain at Belle Vue.
Commenting on this, Manni Hussain, Chairman of 88m Group confirmed that he had
written to the club.
Mr Hussain said: “I have asked the club to clarify their intentions as I am
aware that they are selling tickets to fans for games at Belle Vue beyond the
date the club have indicated they wish to leave the ground. My greatest concern
is for the fans, as the club have put no agreement in place and fans are paying
out their hard earned money for games that we cannot facilitate at Belle Vue - unless
the club make these necessary arrangements.”
Cllr Jeffery added: “I urge the club owners to put the fans first and sort out
their playing arrangements as soon as possible, as well as reconsidering their
unworkable demands for the new community stadium. I doubt any new landlord will
offer them a deal with complete control over all income streams and a rent that
doesn’t cover any costs.”