NEED A QUICK FIX
Headingley will host the 2019 Ashes encounter, but might lose four World Cup matches © Getty
Mark Arthur, Yorkshire’s Chief Executive, has warned the club may be unable to host major international matches, including Tests, unless a financial arrangement to redevelop Headingley is found “within weeks.”
The Football Stand, which Yorkshire share with the Leeds Rhinos rugby league team, is in major need of renovation if the ground is to remain eligible to host major matches after the 2019 season. A GBP 4million grant from Leeds City Council has been unexpectedly withdrawn and the county is struggling to find the GBP 17million they must contribute to the next stage of a project that is expected to cost GBP 40million in total.
“Gordon Hollins, the chief operating officer of the ECB, has confirmed to us in writing that Headingley does not comply with the International Facilities Policy,” said Arthur. “Therefore, once the current staging agreement ends in 2019, we will not be considered for Test matches.
“This has to be resolved in the very near future or we will have run out if time to complete the stand by the start of the 2019 season,” said Arthur. “While the Ashes Test is secure, the four World Cup matches in 2019 are not.
Headingley will host an Ashes Test in 2019 but is in danger of losing the four World Cup games currently scheduled for the venue and will be unlikely to get any international cricket from 2020 onwards without the required development of the stand. With GBP 25million worth of debt, much owed to the England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) Chairman Colin Graves, the lack of international cricket and the resultant fall in revenues, while not affecting Yorkshire’s solvency, would hugely compromise their ability to reduce the amount they owe as quickly as they would like.
Without the redevelopment, it is also unlikely that Headingley would be chosen as a host venue for the new proposed eight team T20 competition scheduled to begin in 2020. “Not only is the clock ticking from a financial point of view, the ECB will be allocating international matches from 2020 to 2023 later this year as well as the new city-based T20 host contracts,” said Arthur.
“The need to have a new stand has recently taken on greater importance with the introduction of a new T20 city based competition from the year 2020. The hosts cities will be selected on the basis of facilities and catchment. It will be akin to hosting four additional one-day internationals per year and will bring further incremental income to those host grounds and cities.”