The long-awaited redevelopment of Headingley Stadium has moved a step closer.
An agreement has been reached which could save international cricket in Leeds and provide a massive overhaul of facilities for Leeds Rhinos.
Planning permission for the development of both the rugby and cricket sides of the stadium was granted two months ago, but work was delayed due to a lack of funding.
Leeds Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington said last Thursday an agreement would have to be reached by this week for the development to be completed in time for the 2019 cricket World Cup.
And Yorkshire officials have long warned that the ground would lose its status as a major cricket venue if the work did not go ahead.
Now Leeds City Council have released a statement confirming a way forward has been found. The statement says: “Subject to final approval by Leeds City Council’s executive board, an agreement has been brokered which will provide the funds that are required to redevelop Headingley Carnegie Stadium.
“If given the go-ahead, this funding which will be provided from a private financial services company, will be at no cost to the council taxpayer.”
The £39million scheme includes a new rugby South Stand and joint main stand, shared by the rugby and cricket clubs.
Hetherington said: “We have been working closely with Leeds City Council and partners to find a solution to ensure international sport continues at Headingley Carnegie for many years to come and we appreciate all the effort and commitment put in by Leeds City Council to broker this deal.
“There is still much to do but recent developments are very encouraging and could provide the funding mechanism to complete the redevelopment work.”
His counterpart at Yorkshire County Cricket Club Mark Arthur added: “We would like to thank Councillor Judith Blake and Leeds City Council for their support in reaching this point.
“There is still a way to go, however, it is a significant step in securing the future of international cricket at Headingley.
“Yorkshire County Cricket Club will continue to work hard to ensure that all remaining funds are in place to ensure that the redevelopment is completed in time for the Cricket World Cup in 2019.”
Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, said: “I’m delighted we’ve found a solution that will ensure Headingley continues to enjoy full international sporting status.
“Subject to the final approval of the Council’s Executive Board, this will deliver the funding to redevelop the stadium in full.
“The money will be provided by a private financial services company at no cost to the council tax payer, which offers the best and most viable option moving forward.”
The executive board will discuss the agreement at a meeting on April 12.