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EXCLUSIVE: York City Knights Say Legal Row Over Stadium To End

Stadium Frontage

2:56pm 1st December 2014
(Updated 4:42pm 1st December 2014)

The legal row between York City Knights and York Council over the city's new stadium could be about to be dropped.

York City Knights have exclusively told Minster FM that the two have agreed to stop the legal action. But the council have denied that this is the case.

But the Knights have continued to raise concerns that they are only being guaranteed a temporary home for two years. Club chairman John Guildford is also pushing for a standing area in the new Community Stadium.

But both the council and the Knights say the stadium is still due to open in Summer 2016.

In a statement to fans, York City Knights say:

"Club Chairman John Guildford would like to assure fans that all is currently well at the club, and there should be no further delays to the Community Stadium development process.

"The club realises that there have been fears amongst supporters over both the club’s and new stadium’s future following the news that the club were involved in a legal dispute with City of York Council concerning the end of our tenancy at the current Huntington Stadium. The Council have instigated legal proceedings but have now confirmed, after a request from the Knights, to agree to a consent order to stop the court proceedings. 

"Everything possible has been done by the club to vacate the stadium so that the redevelopment can begin as soon as possible, but what cannot be allowed is for the council to breach their terms of the agreement and only promise the Knights a guaranteed home in the city for the next two years, whether or not the Community Stadium is ready at the end of this period.

"Further drama, meanwhile, has come with City of York Athletics Club saying they are now set to remain at Huntington Stadium "until April 2015" due to delays in their proposed switch to a new venue at York University. They were meant to move out this month.

"Everything seems to be running along fine as far as we're concerned," said Guildford, 

“I'm not certain what the council's issues are at present or what's happening with the athletics - no doubt that will all come out at some point - but we're optimistic everything will be resolved and that the future of York City Knights will be fine.

"If they now only want to give assurances for two years, that's a breach of the planning conditions. It needs to be until the new stadium is built. I'm sure it will be fine, though. The councils enforcement department have been advised of the breach and are investigating this and we are optimistic that it will be resolved satisfactorily  It may bring into question  Natural Justice, that “nobody may be a judge on his own case, but we are confident the council will not be biased or influenced at all and make the right decision, after all it was the Councils planning conditions put in place to protect the clubs.

"The council have confirmed that the grant to York City Football Club has been approved and the football club have had works done to the pitch to allow the Knights to play games at Bootham Crescent, the fixture list was agreed with YCFC to work around their games and the parties resolved the times amicably which suited both parties.We would like to put on recored that the football club have been more than helpful to assist the Knights and have shown  that the clubs can work in harmony, not as many people may wish to think/believe. Ycfc agreed for the knights to play their home games at their ground in 2012 and have never changed their position on this agreement  

"The council has stressed many times that both ourselves and York City won't be worse off with this scheme, and they've assured us they will fulfil commitments to provide us with stability and somewhere to thrive long-term - and we can't ask for any more.” Both Tim Atkins and Cllr James Alexander have also assured Gary Hall chair of the supporters club that the future of the club is secure and that the club will have facilities to train, play reserve team games and home games until the new stadium is completed and the club will not be worse off or financially disadvantaged by the move into the new stadium. 

"A new detailed planning application for the redevelopment is set to be delivered in December and the council are to publish new drawings which have some modifications to the new stadium.

"The council have informed the knights the new proposal does come with a massive risk to the council as the new scheme now requires a further 60,000sq/ft of retail units to enable the re-development of the Waterworld facilities. We have been assured that the risk will not affect the new stadium and will have no impact on the clubs as the funds for the stadium have been in the councils bank account since around July 2012 to provide a new community stadium as demonstrated by the enabling development with consent received in May 2012, which meant that the new stadium should have commenced very quickly and the new planning application should have run along side the original scheme. 

"The project is at a very sensitive stage with the council now applying for a second Enabling Development planning application after the first one was demonstrated sufficient to provide a great benefit to the city. Parties must not loose sight of the objective, that it was always to assist the football club and should now work together to deliver the new stadium not get side tracked with other facilities around the city and a new planning application that carries massive risks and puts both clubs at risk.   

"Guildford said: "I've not seen the drawings yet but if it's along the lines of what they've been telling me, then everything is fine. All thats needed is that some seats are taken out and some standing areas are provided which will ensure its an 8,000 capacity stadium with mixed seating and standing its what the fans want, and after all its the fans who will be using the stadium.

"It would be good to know what is happening behind the scenes but I don’t know of any reasons for hold-ups and Tim Atkins (stadium project manager) has assured me it's all on track, and we'll go along with that."

"We will continue to do everything possible to secure a long, promising future for the Knights with stability and success both on and off the field a primary concern.

"Cllr Crisp has assured the Knights that the project will be completed on time, to budget and  to the main principals of the original enabling development application obligations so again everything looks to be running as planned. 

"Together, we are YORK AND PROUD."

York Council has not issued any new comment in response to the latest announcement from the Knights but referred to a statement last week from Sarah Tanburn, Interim Director of City and Environmental Services at the council:

“City of York Council has this week withdrawn from negotiations with Mr Guildford, Chair of the York City Knights Rugby Club, with regard to the York Community Stadium. Mr Guildford, on behalf of the Knights, has filed notice to the County Court of their intention to contest the Council’s application to redevelop Huntington Stadium, having previously agreed to the redevelopment as part of the delivery of the York Community Stadium development. This action by Mr Guildford places the Council at significant financial and legal risk and as a result the Council is now in legal dispute with the Knights.

“The Community Stadium development itself continues to progress at pace, with a series of public engagement events taking place at the end of November to provide the local community with an opportunity to speak to the development team and provide comments on the proposals. The consortium appointed to deliver the design, build and operation of the stadium, led by Greenwich Leisure Ltd, is expecting to submit a detailed planning application for the proposals in December. Then in April we will see the archaeological dig, called Dig York Stadium, begin in earnest as a community team including archaeologists from the Trust and local participants explore and discover the archaeology of the new community stadium site”.

The York Community Stadium will provide a new 8,000 seat stadium for football and rugby league, a leisure facility which will include a gym, 25 metre, six-lane swimming pool, a fun pool and training pool, as well as a new sports hall and dance studio. The Community Hub on site will provide bespoke facilities for project partners with a focus on promoting health and wellbeing for York residents and visitors. The development also includes a number of new retail units restaurants and a multiscreen cinema complex."

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