Cumbria set to miss out on the 2021 Rugby League World Cup after stadium plan rejected

Artists impression of the new multi-million pound stadium. Credit: Allerdale Borough Council

Allerdale Borough Council’s Executive committee met today to discuss plans for the new community stadium in Workington.

The council was approached last year by Workington Town Rugby League club and Workington Reds football club, to investigate the possibility of building a new stadium for them both.

The scrutiny committee had originally questioned the comparisons with other stadium projects elsewhere in the country, the importance of the project for the hosting of the Rugby League World Cup (RLWC) and the proposed stadium’s sustainability.

The plans originally included an 8,000 capacity stadium on the current site of Borough Park, hospitality and conference facilities, and a 3G training pitch on nearby land. The plans also included office accommodation for Sellafield and a new NHS facilities.

The original decision made by the previous administration had agreed to finance the scheme using an investor/developer route. This meant that the council would have used a developer to both finance and build the stadium with the council having to act as guarantor for the income streams.

Today a motion was tabled by Cllr Mark Jenkinson, Deputy Leader, for council officers to continue looking into the business case for a new stadium and that in doing so, reduce the size and specification. The motion was approved unanimously by the six Executive members present.

Leader of the Council, Marion Fitzgerald said: “A great deal of work has been done by councillors on the Executive committee to get to the bottom of the business case and understand it. We have also reached out to Workington Reds and Workington Town to make sure any decision we made was fully informed."

“There's no question the clubs’ need modern facilities and a new stadium would benefit them and wider the public. But we have to balance that with the risk to the council and serving the needs of the whole borough.”

Meetings will be arranged with the officials from the two clubs who were to share the new stadium, Workington Reds football club and Workington Town rugby league club, to discuss their future now that the decision had been taken.

The council will also be speaking with other key stakeholders, including from the Rugby League World Cup who were to stage games at the new stadium in 2021. The council will continue dialogue with RLWC.