Castleford Tigers: Stadium delay ‘won’t hit licence hopes’

Tigers chief executive Richard Wright.
Tigers chief executive Richard Wright.
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CASTLEFORD TIGERS are confident a delay in moving to a purpose-built stadium at Glasshoughton will not affect their bid for a new Engage Super League licence.

Tigers had originally hoped to move grounds next year, but now expect to relocate in time for the start of the 2013 season.

Wakefield Council will decide on Tigers’ planning application for the new stadium on April 9.

A proposal to sell the existing site in Wheldon Road for housing has been scrapped and it is now set to become a supermarket.

In a statement, Tigers chief executive Richard Wright, admitted that fans will be “disappointed” by the delay.

But he insisted: “We anticipate our current facilities at the Probiz Stadium will be reviewed favourably and will be complemented by our advanced plans to move to a new stadium within the next licensing period.

“Facilities are just one area of criteria that the RFL will assess to make their decision and we are diligently putting the final touches to our licence application that we strongly believe will ensure that Castleford Tigers remain a dominant force in Super League for years to come.”

Wright confirmed that Tigers have entered into an exclusive development agreement to transform their site at Wheldon Road into a “large-format food store”.

Optus Land (North) Ltd and its financial partner, Palmer Capital, are working with Tigers to obtain approval for the scheme, in a deal expected to be worth around £50m.

Talks have already been held with Wakefield Council and major retailers. The club claim the scheme will “trigger the regeneration of Wheldon Road and help to promote the town centre”.

The plan replaces a previous proposal to sell the land to Ben Bailey Homes.

Wright said that the club are fortunate to own their ground, which is the club’s largest single financial asset.

He added: “Our business plan has always been to identify the sale and future usage that would provide the greatest financial return to fund the new stadium development.

“In extremely challenging economic conditions, with land values at an all-time low, it makes no sense to rush through the sale of our biggest asset at a vastly-reduced price.

“However, the revised agreement would enable the club to acquire all the necessary funding to deliver a new stadium that the fans deserve and to build it in a single phase.

“This is a much better deal for Castleford Tigers and for the public of Castleford and is an arrangement that has well suited the likes of Warrington Wolves and St Helens, where similar deals have led to the development of first-class modern stadia.”

Castleford Tigers forward Mike McMeeken. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

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