English rugby league team Wakefield Trinity has hit out at the city council after talks over a new stadium for the club stalled.
In September, Trinity revealed plans for a £12m project to construct a new 10,000-seat stadium on the site of its current home, Belle Vue.
The council did not initially approve the project but eventually came around to the idea, before it emerged last month that talks between the two parties had reached an impasse.
In a strongly-worded statement published on the club’s website, directors Chris Brereton and Michael Carter said it is “entirely the fault of Wakefield Council” that Trinity has no secure home for the foreseeable future.
Trinity faces having to leave Belle Vue, its home since 1895, as it does not meet minimum ground standards for the Super League, the top tier of rugby league in England.
The statement read: “Six years ago after three weeks of evidence, a public enquiry paid for by the ratepayers of Wakefield concluded that a community stadium compliant to Super League standards should be built and funded by the planning gains which accrued to the property developer of the Newmarket site adjacent to the M62.
“It was the duty of Wakefield Council, as the local planning authority, to ensure that in return for the land coming out of the green belt, the Community Stadium was constructed. The developer has its planning consent but not a brick has been laid on the Stadium site. We simply require the council to fulfil its statutory duties.
“The council now seeks to lay the blame for the mess which it has created, at the door of Wakefield Trinity. It should be borne in mind that a Labour-controlled council has managed, as a result of the planning consents obtained by the developer, to line the pockets of a property speculator and has neglected to enforce the planning obligations due to its ratepayers, the community at large, and of course, Wakefield Trinity Rugby League Club.
“The current proposal that we pay a commercial/reasonable rent (of which we have yet to see any detail or figures) for the new community stadium at Belle Vue is unacceptable. There is a legally-binding obligation for the council to provide a 99-year lease at a peppercorn yearly rental to the Wakefield & District Community Trust. The Trust in turn would create a lease to Wakefield Trinity, as anchor tenants, at a nominal rent to cover the Trust’s operating expenses. Wakefield Trinity would then enjoy the rewards from the stadium, but would also be liable for all associated risks in operating a stadium. This was and remains entirely acceptable.”
The statement can be read in full here.
Image: Chris Morgan