GEOFFREY BOYCOTT has accused the Yorkshire hierarchy of gambling with the club’s future over plans to take on more debt to redevelop Headingley.
The former Yorkshire and England opening batsman has criticised the club’s board for trying to borrow more money to construct a new main stand.
Yorkshire – some £25m in debt – would push their borrowings up to around £40m if they go ahead with the proposed development.
The club say the stand is “absolutely necessary” for retaining international cricket post-2019, when Yorkshire’s staging agreement to host England games expires.
Boycott, who voiced strong concerns about the club’s debt during a failed attempt last year to gain re-election to the board, took to Twitter to air his fears.
“YCCC are £25 million in debt,” he wrote.
“Now trying to borrow another £15m to build new stand. £40m debt not a calculation but a gamble with YCCC future.”
As previously reported in The Yorkshire Post, the club claim they could repay their debts within a decade.
Steve Denison, the Yorkshire chairman, said that the retention of international cricket and the likelihood that an improved Headingley would be chosen as a venue for the proposed new city-based T20 franchise tournament would generate the requisite cash flows.
However, he warned that the future would be bleaker still if Yorkshire did not take on more debt to finance the stand.
Not only would Headingley lose four matches in the 2019 World Cup predicated on the stand’s construction, but Yorkshire would lose international cricket full-stop, having already been told by the England and Wales Cricket Board that the ground no longer complies with International Facilities Policy.
Boycott’s comments come as Yorkshire urgently seek to raise an outstanding £4m for the £16.5m stand.
The club had hoped that the balance would come by way of a grant from Leeds City Council, only for councillors to rule that out.
With work on the new stand needing to start by September this year to be ready for 2019, Yorkshire have warned that they are “almost out of time”.
They are continuing to work closely with Leeds City Council and neighbours Leeds Rugby in a concerted attempt to find a solution.