A DELAY to the £38m redevelopment of Headingley Stadium could lead to the loss of international cricket at the ground, claim Yorkshire.
Leeds Rhinos have confirmed that plans to demolish and rebuild the South Stand on the rugby pitch have been put back until the end of the 2017 season.
Planning permission has yet to be granted for the work at the stadium or the sale of two areas of land for housing, which will partly fund the project.
The proposed new South Stand – including seats and a standing area – is the first part of the redevelopment which will also include the Main Stand, shared with Yorkshire County Cricket Club.
In response to the Rhinos’ announcement, Yorkshire CCC chief executive Mark Arthur voiced his fears over the knock-on effect to the delay.
He said Headingley could miss out on hosting a match at the 2019 World Cup or future Ashes series.
“The 2020-2024 major matches will be allocated in the summer of 2017, therefore this delay could mean that Headingley will no longer be considered fit for Test cricket – or to host any World Cup matches in 2019.
“Not only does this delay impact the club’s ability to stage Internationals, it would also have profound consequences to both Yorkshire’s and Leeds Rhinos’ valuable and long-standing work within the wider community.
“To continue the vast amount of work within the Leeds area, the club is dependent on retaining international cricket.”
Rhinos had originally hoped work to demolish and then rebuild the South Stand would begin at the end of the 2016 season.
Earlier this month, Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington said he had expected the terrace to be closed after Rhinos’ Boxing Day game against Wakefield Trinity.
But the work is now likely to be undertaken following the climax of the 2017 season.
A Rhinos statement said: “The delays have been caused by complex planning matters relating to the early release of two sites owned by Leeds Rhinos that are currently put forward by the council for development in its site allocations process.
“These sites underpin the financial support to be provided to the project by both clubs, other public bodies and Leeds City Council itself.
“The Rhinos have just over 100 days until their first home game of the season on February 24 and will be working to re-allocate those supporters who wish to transfer their memberships back into the South Stand for the new season before Christmas.”
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