Leeds Rhinos: Hetherington quashes rumours of Odsal switch

Odsal Stadium.
Odsal Stadium.
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LEEDS RHINOS are staying at Headingley, chief executive Gary Hetherington insists.

He has quashed rumours the club are set to move to Bradford Bulls’ Odsal Stadium during redevelopment work at their own ground.

Gary Hetherington.

Gary Hetherington.

Hetherington said Rhinos will play all their home fixtures this season at Headingley and have “not contemplated” taking matches elsewhere.

A report by Dave ‘Nosey’ Parker in Monday’s League Weekly newspaper claims Rhinos “could have a surprise new home for the back end of this season and the start of the 2018 campaign - Odsal Stadium”.

It adds: “I understand the last five or six Rhinos ‘home’ games of this term could be switched around the outer ring road to the Provident Stadium with a similar number at the beginning of next season taking place there.”

In response, Hetherington told The Yorkshire Evening Post: “I am aware of the report that has emerged. The report has no foundation to it.

“I don’t know where on Earth it has come from.”

Rhinos had hoped work to rebuild Headingley’s iconic rugby South Stand would begin at the end of last season, but funding and planning issues led to a delay. Planning permission for the South and Main stands was granted in January and Hetherington added: “I refer back to our public statement at that time. We said then it was good news we had been given permission to develop the stadium, but clearly there is still a huge funding issue to resolve.

“Both ourselves and Yorkshire County Cricket Club are working closely with Leeds City Council to see if we can get a positive result to that.

“That’s still the case and in any event the earliest – and latest – timescale to start any development would be September this year at the end of the current Super League season. Even on the best-case scenario – if the funding mechanism was put in place today – there would be no disruption to our games at Headingley this season. The plan is to begin work immediately at the end of this season and get part of the stadium ready for the 2018 season.

“We have not contemplated taking our games away from Headingley.”