Tigers stadium plan ‘delayed’

Richard Wright from Castleford Tigers at the site of the proposed new stadium.
Richard Wright from Castleford Tigers at the site of the proposed new stadium.

CASTLEFORD Tigers’ hopes of starting its 2013 season in a new multi-million pound stadium have been dashed after delays in selling its current ground for a supermarket development.

This week chiefs from the club’s partner Opus Land (North) Ltd revealed it will be another three or four months before it will be able to announce any news from its negotiations with retail operators because rival schemes in the area had “slowed down” its progress.

Last month, the Express reported that developer Edinburgh House has submitted an application to Wakefield Council to renew planning permission for its £50m scheme to build a supermarket, shops, housing and car parks less than a mile away from Tigers’ proposed project.

The Super League side’s deal with Opus would provide all the cash needed to build its state-of-the-art new stadium in Glass Houghton if it can get planning consent for a supermarket at its current Wheldon Road ground.

Andrew Duncan, Opus director, said the company was in a “very advanced, albeit sensitive” stage of negotiations with a major retail operator – but delays would mean Tigers’ new stadium would not be ready for the start of the 2013 season.

He said: “The presence of rival sites in the town has undoubtedly slowed our progress. Operators, as you would expect, have taken additional time to scrutinise the viability of all potential sites in the area. The result of this is that we have been unable to progress the planning application within the time scales originally set out, however, we do anticipate the signing of an operator early in the new year.

“All parties acknowledge the need for a new supermarket in Castleford and we have ultimate confidence that our proposals are the most viable and most attractive for the town.”

Richard Wright, Tigers’ chief executive, said it was “disappointing” the new stadium would not be ready for 2013 but added: “It cannot be stressed enough how sensitive and confidential the negotiations are with retail operators at this stage. Such is the case, much to our frustration at times, it is difficult to give updates to supporters regarding the project’s progress in a regular, structured way as we would like.

“Delays in a project of this size are normal practice and it is disappointing that we will not start 2013 in the new stadium. Securing a retail operator and then planning consent for a supermarket are the final two major pieces of the jigsaw, and both are not fully in our control.

“We remain in constant dialogue with the RFL and are so very nearly at the end of this long journey.

“I ask that our supporters remain behind the project and club at this crucial time”