Police probe Wakefield Trinity stadium deal

West Yorkshire Police has said it is looking into new allegations concerning the acquisition of Wakefield Trinity’s Belle Vue stadium by the English Super League rugby league club.

In March 2019, Trinity agreed a deal to acquire the freehold of Belle Vue, currently known as Mobile Rocket Stadium under a sponsorship deal, and its adjoining land in what was designed to herald redevelopment of one of rugby league’s most historic venues. The club acquired Belle View from a third party, Manni Hussain, with £3m (€3.3m/$4m) lent to it by Wakefield Council.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) said the exact nature of the fresh allegations have not been disclosed, but added that it was revealed earlier this year that the National Crime Agency (NCA) were investigating the circumstances surrounding the deal, as part of a wider probe into Hussain’s business activities.

The NCA later recovered £10m in property and cash from Hussain, stating he had multiple links to organised criminals. The NCA’s probe is said to have concluded, with £600,000 of the funds recovered understood to have come from money Hussain received from selling Belle Vue.

West Yorkshire Police said the claims it is looking into are unrelated to the NCA’s investigation. A spokeswoman added: “West Yorkshire Police have recently received allegations that concern the sale of the Wakefield Stadium in 2019 and these remain under review.”

The LDRS said the March 2019 deal saw Belle Vue sold for nearly twice its estimated value. The agreement was struck after long-held plans to move the club to a new 12,000-capacity stadium failed to materialise.

Trinity was founded in 1873 and has played at Belle Vue since the late 1870s. The March 2019 acquisition intended to mark the first stage in the redevelopment of the stadium, which has a current capacity of around 9,000.

The latest news comes after Trinity last month put the construction of a new 2,500-seat stand at the heart of its Belle Vue redevelopment after outlining redevelopment plans. The club said the project at the stadium that it has called home since the 1870s will be “the most significant within the stadium for 75 years”.

The plans include construction of a new 2,500-seat East Stand to include a large hospitality and conferencing facility. A 4G pitch suitable for all weather use by both club and the community will be installed.

The club will also renovate the North Stand terracing to provide an upgrade to spectator amenity in that part of the ground and an increase in overall ground capacity. Existing floodlights will be upgraded to the latest LED technology.

The planning application was formally submitted to Wakefield Council last week by planning consultant Pegasus Group and AFL Architects on behalf of Spirit of 1873 Ltd, who own the ground.

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