'A game-changer': Campaigners claim Leeds United offered to buy historic TV Harrison Sports Ground to save it from development

A historic football ground with links to Leeds United could be saved from the threat of development, campaigners say, as a former MP has claimed Leeds United have offered to buy the site.

By Richard Beecham
Saturday, 2nd July 2022, 4:45 am

The TV Harrison Sports Ground in Wortley has been officially disused for nearly two decades, and is currently subject to a planning application by Leeds City Council to build dozens of social houses.

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But campaigners warned the site, formerly home of Leeds City Boys, was a piece of footballing history that should be preserved, and unofficially brought the land back into use as a football pitch in 2020.

Michael Meadowcroft, along with campaigners at the site.

Michael Meadowcroft, who chairs the TV Harrison Sports Ground Association, has this week claimed Leeds United have agreed to step in to bid the ground and save it from development.

However, Leeds United refused to confirm this was the case, while Leeds City Council and Leeds Schools Sports Association did not comment on the claims.

Speaking exclusively to the Yorkshire Evening Post, Mr Meadowcroft said: “The news of Leeds United’s offer to buy the T V Harrison Sports Ground is a game changer and a terrific boost for the campaign to safeguard this historic sports ground.

"Our association will be delighted to work alongside Leeds United in whatever plans the club has for safeguarding and developing Wortley’s historic sports ground. Leeds United has always looked out for talented local players and the T V Harrison Sports Ground was invariably on the list of grounds to be visited by its scouts. For over one hundred years the famed Leeds City Boys played there and this was the team that nurtured so many famous Leeds United old boys

"For the group after three years of struggling on its own, winning a legal case against the city council, to have Leeds United involved in this way is a complete game-changer.

"They are bringing the massive fanbase of Leeds United behind the campaign, and I can't see how that can be anything other than a tremendous boost to saving this historic sport ground.

"It really is the catalyst for widespread public support.

"Leeds United has a great connection with this sports ground- there is a great catalogue of Leeds United players who have played there.

"You can't have housebuilding at the cost of everything else. It's like asking if they would be sympathetic if they wanted to build houses on City Square - they ain't gonna do it. It's a question of where and when."

Responding to the claims, a Leeds United spokesperson said: "Whilst it would be inappropriate for us to make any comment at this stage, we are very aware of the situation at the T.V Harrison Sports Ground."

The field was once home to the Leeds City Boys football team, where football legends including David Batty, Brian Deane and Stuart McCall first made their names. It has been restored by the community in recent years, after being officially closed since 2004. It has been used for informal football matches and fund-raising activities.

Leeds City Council’s City Plans Panel approved outline plans to build 61 council houses on the site at a meeting in September 2021.

Following an application from campaigners to the High Court for a judicial review, the council's decision not to designate the site as an “asset of community value” was subsequently ruled unlawful in January 2022.

Leeds City Council did not comment on the claims from Mr Meadowcroft, stating that the site was still majority owned by Leeds Schools Sports Association.

Leeds Schools Sports Association has been approached for a comment.