IPL’s Royals bid to seize control at Headingley

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The Rajasthan Royals Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket franchise has reportedly launched a £25m (€29.1/$31.2m) bid to acquire Yorkshire County Cricket Club in a deal that would include the historic Headingley stadium.

According to the Daily Mail, the IPL franchise’s offer would be for a 100% takeover – unlike other investment proposals tabled so far. Mike Ashley, the former owner of English Premier League football club Newcastle United, is also in ‘advanced talks’ over a possible £22m deal to purchase the stadium.

The Leeds-based club has been attempting to raise £20m for several months in an effort to secure its long-term survival. Yorkshire owes £15.9m to the family trust of former chairman Colin Graves and is also seeking further investment of £5m.

The club’s most recent set of accounts, detailing losses of £2.2m, warned that without further funding of £3.5m, Yorkshire, which is controlled by its members, “will not be able to continue as a going concern”.

Headingley, which has been the club’s home since 1891, was recently valued at £23m.

According to reports last week, Yorkshire has been favouring a potential model through which the club would be granted a 10-year lease to play at Headingley, with the option to buy the stadium back.

Headingley retained its status as a venue for international matches after Yorkshire members passed special resolutions in March 2022 as part of reform efforts following a racism scandal.

Revenue generated by this summer’s Ashes Test between England and Australia is said to have enabled Yorkshire to pay its bills and get through the season, but the club faces further issues in October when a repayment of £500,000 is due to the Graves trust.

Yorkshire acquired Headingley in 2005 from the Leeds Cricket, Football and Athletic Company in a £12m deal that resulted in the club securing a 15-year international match-staging deal from the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB). Yorkshire chief executive Stephen Vaughan has maintained that the club is “making strong progress” on securing its long-term future.

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