Wakefield Council has vowed to continue progressing the plans for a new community stadium in the district despite Wakefield Trinity halting talks over the redevelopment of Belle Vue last week – while the owners of the ground have asked the club to clarify their position regarding where they are playing in 2018.
The Council say that themselves, 88m Group – the owners of the Belle Vue site – and Yorkcourt Properties will redevelop Belle Vue no matter what happens regarding Trinity’s stance on the matter.
The Super League club withdrew from talks last week after growing frustrated, saying they would consider alternative arrangements. They have yet to officially explain the reasons why they pulled out of discussions.
“We all have a great opportunity to deliver a first-class sporting and entertainment stadium for all our residents,” Wakefield Council’s Deputy Leader, Cllr Denise Jeffrey, said. “A new community facility could give a real boost to so many sports clubs and groups, not just in the city but also in the wider area, including hockey, netball, football and rugby across a range of age groups and covering both men and women’s games.
“It would be absolutely fantastic to have our much-loved rugby league club as tenants, and one of key drivers of the proposal we have worked hard to put together was to keep Wakefield Trinity in this city. But, it simply cannot work unless there is a fair, deliverable and sustainable business plan and deal in place.
“We are very saddened that the club owners are choosing not to have the new stadium as their home. However, based on the value the facility could add to our sporting community we feel it is our duty to progress the plans and are keen to hear from any sports clubs who would be interested in using the new stadium so that we can try and incorporate their needs when developing the designs.”
The announcement from the Council also comes as the owners of Belle Vue have reached out to Trinity to explain their own playing arrangements for 2018.
Should Trinity agree terms with all parties and be involved in the redevelopment of Belle Vue, they will remain at the stadium in 2018 as expected. However, the Council said that Trinity chairman Michael Carter “gave notice to quit the Belle Vue site in December 2017” back in February. “To date,” the statement continued, “this notice has not been rescinded nor has any contact been made by the club to negotiate a different position with the landowner – despite his numerous verbal offers for the club to remain at Belle Vue.”
Commenting on the matter, Manni Hussian, the chairman of 88m Group, confirmed that he had written to the club for an explanation.
“I have asked the club to clarify their intentions as I am aware that they are selling tickets to fans for games at Belle Vue beyond the date the club have indicated they wish to leave the ground,” he said. “My greatest concern is for the fans, as the club have put no agreement in place and fans are paying out their hard earned money for games that we cannot facilitate at Belle Vue – unless the club make these necessary arrangements.”
Cllr Jeffery added: “I urge the club owners to put the fans first and sort out their playing arrangements as soon as possible, as well as reconsidering their unworkable demands for the new community stadium, as I doubt any new landlord will offer them a deal with complete control over all income streams and a rent that doesn’t cover any costs.”