Castleford Tigers optimistic on ‘critical’ Wheldon Road upgrade

CASTLEFORD TIGERS Managing Director Mark Grattan says getting the green light for a proposed major stadium upgrade is “critical” to the Tigers’ future prosperity.

With a club grading system on the horizon, permission is now being sought to improve Wheldon Road and bring the 96-year-old venue into line with Super League requirements.

The key to more than £12 million of funding for the project is planning approval for a significant new £200 million development by the Highgrove Group, which would create logistics and manufacturing units at the Axiom site close to Junction 32 of the M62 at Glasshoughton, which had previously been earmarked for a new stadium for the Tigers.

Both Highgrove and the club have now submitted their respective applications to Wakefield Council.

Success for both would lead to £15 million of highways improvements at the Junction 32 interchange and a £12.2 million contribution to the Wheldon Road redevelopment – which includes a new main stand and hospitality facilities – rather than the construction of new ground.

The Highgrove Group financial injection would be supplemented by £2 million from Wakefield Council’s Rugby League Resilience Fund, mirroring the funding arrangements for Wakefield Trinity’s ongoing stadium redevelopment rather than the construction of a new ground at Newmarket.

Once completed, the Axiom site would be expected to provide around 2,200 full-time jobs, while approximately 1,500 construction roles per year would be created during the various works.

It is expected that the Axiom proposals would generate around £142 million of local economic activity once fully operational.

Grattan said: “We are delighted that the planning applications for both Axiom and the Wheldon Road improvements have now been submitted. This is a really important moment for the club and the town more widely.

“If both planning applications are approved, the money raised will secure the future of Castleford Tigers at Wheldon Road for a generation, at an important time for Rugby League, with Super League considering a move to a grading system.

“The quality of our home is critical to our future sporting success, and these plans provide an upgrade to player training and medical facilities.

“Improving the matchday experience for fans is of course our priority, but the significantly improved banqueting and hospitality facilities enable us to increase matchday revenue and generate income throughout the week, which in turn benefits the club’s finances.”

Castleford have also forged a new partnership with Midlands Hurricanes which will focus primarily on aiding the development of young players in the League One club’s area.

And the club has appointed Scott Murrell, whose playing career ended last season with promotion for Keighley Cougars., as their new reserve-team coach.

Murrell, 37, will also assist head coach Lee Radford with the Tigers’ first team, and could turn out for the reserves himself if the need arises.

“I’m newly retired but if during the year the Reserves need me to put my hand up and play, I will do, but if we have enough players and the youngsters are coming through, they will of course get the first gig,” said Murrell.