The proposed redevelopment of Wakefield Trinity’s home ground, Belle Vue, looks to have hit the buffers once again.
Wakefield District Council yesterday accused the Super League club’s owners of effectively sabotaging the latest round of talks, which have been geared towards completing the redevelopment by the start of the 2020 season.
Wakefield Council announced last month that it would take out a lease on the Belle Vue site to speed up the delivery of the new project – an offer they say still stands. But WMDC claims the club’s owners have now rejected these plans and instead suggested that the stadium be built at no cost to them, while retaining sole control over its income and operations.
Wakefield District Council’s corporate director for regeneration and ecomonic growth, Andrew Wallhead, said: “The fact that the club’s owners will not consider paying a fair commercial rent alongside other tenants in a stadium owned and operated by a charitable trust is unbelievable, especially as we understand that the Super League deal with Sky pays them a significant sum to cover accommodation costs including reasonable rentals.
“We have worked tirelessly to bring the option of building a brand new stadium at Belle Vue to the table and we are ready and willing to commit our finances so that the project could move forward quickly and deliver a new home for rugby in the city.”
He added: “We were disappointed and surprised by the suggestion that, instead of the agreed plan, we should now consider developing the stadium in Thornes Park at public expense.
“It is incredible that the club’s owners expect a stadium to be delivered at no cost to them and without having to pay a normal rent.
“No one could deliver a community stadium without a contribution from the main tenant and public money cannot be used to finance a project where the ultimate proceeds sit within a private company.”
The club’s owners are understood to be looking at ‘alternative arrangements’ but have yet to share those with the council.
Manni Hussain, chairman of 88m Group the owners of Belle Vue, said: “We are without question behind the council and will work with them to finally resolve this issue.
“We want to continue to help the club to deliver a new community stadium for the 2019/20 season.”
The club has yet to release an official statement.