Yorkshire open door to Pakistan

Press Releasein Cricket

Yorkshire County Cricket Club are optimistic that the £21m redevelopment of Headingley Carnegie will go ahead as planned and that they will be in position to host Pakistan 'home' Tests should the need arise.

County officials believe they are well positioned to weather the storm of a credit crunch which has hit the worlds of business and sport alike with chief executive Stewart Regan last night confirming work on re-building the famous old ground would go ahead as planned throughout 2009.

He also revealed that Headingley would be ready to act as a host should the International Cricket Council decide next month that Pakistan will have to play at neutral venues due to the worrying security situation in their country.

Regan said: "We have already made our points to the ECB (England and Wales Cricket Board) and if the opportunity came along then Yorkshire County Cricket Club would be more than happy to stage a Pakistan 'home' Test.

"We believe it would be popular and well received in light of our location and our access to the highly populated Asian areas in and around Bradford. Nothing will happen in the short term, but we will wait to see what transpires."

Pakistan have been starved of international cricket since Australia's tour and the Champions Trophy were postponed due to terrorism fears, and Ijaz Butt, the newly-appointed chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board has accepted the possibility of moving to neutral venues.

While the ICC deliberate, Regan's priority is the ground transformation and he admits that officials have been involved in tough negotiations.

Looking out across a Headingley pitch which has been ripped up apart from the square to instal new drainage, Regan said: "The credit crunch is pretty significant at the moment largely because we are trying to get a £21m new pavilion development under way. We have started work on the outfield and, at the end of the month/early November, we are due to demolish the Winter Shed stand.

"There are a number of challenges ahead largely because of the funding issues associated with borrowing money from banks, the impact on interest rates and whether the club are going to be in a position to satisfy those repayments over the next few years."

The former Football League Championship director continued: "As you can imagine, we are doing a lot of reworking of our financial projections; we are having a lot of discussions with our investors, in particular Leeds City Council, Leeds Metropolitan University, Yorkshire Forward and a number of private individuals across the county.

"We are hopeful that once all of those have been concluded that we will still be able to progress the pavilion as it was originally planned. Certainly, we are very optimistic that the programme can be commenced as per the original timescale, but the credit crunch brings new challenges with it and it's not challenges that are within control of the Yorkshire County Cricket Club.

"Unfortunately, it's down to the people who are operating in the financial sectors and their willingness to do the deals that were previously on the table."

Regan is confident the county's name carries enough clout to instil confidence in investors.

"We have a very strong business case for why we are doing the project and in Leeds Metropolitan University we have a fantastic partner who has backed us to the hilt for the last two-and-a-half years. When organisations like Leeds Metropolitan University, Yorkshire Forward and Leeds City Council are prepared to sign up and back the club, it tells us that there is a lot of confidence in the club, the board, the business plan and belief that this project will bring a lot to the county and the city of Leeds.

"We are very confident, we are very optimistic, we just need to try to make sure that other people are in the same frame of mind."

Regarding the ground, he added: "We are well on target for new drainage and irrigation. It looks like a speedway track at the moment, but the weather has been kind to us and we will be turfing early in the New Year and the ground will be ready for the start of the new season."

Source:-Yorkshire Post

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