The board of directors at Halifax have confirmed that they have instructed the club’s solicitors, Chadwick Lawrence LLP, to apply to the President of the Law Society to appoint an arbitrator to resolve the long standing disputes which continue between the club and Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council (MBC).
The disputes, some of which have been ongoing for more than 12 months, relate to the activities of the MBC in connection with Fax’s use and occupation of the pitch and other facilities at the Shay Stadium.
The rugby club share the stadium with soccer club FC Halifax Town. The Shay Stadium is owned, managed and maintained by Calderdale MBC.
February 2016 saw the disputes reach something of a head, when, according to the rugby club, the person in charge of the council department responsible for managment of The Shay refused to enter negotiations about a matter of alleged outstanding rent.
The rugby club dispute the claim for outstanding rent.
Halifax insist, in a statement on their website, that: “As the User Agreement (which was drafted and issued by the same Department) contains a provision which requires all issues, which cannot be resolved otherwise, to be referred to arbitration, the club has, since February, made repeated requests to the council to meet their contractual obligations and to agree to the appointment of a fit and proper person to act as arbitrator. All such requests have been either refused or ignored.”
Club chairman, Michael Steele feels that the situation is getting out of hand.
“The situation we face is wholly untenable,” he said.
“Although we have a legally binding agreement, there are those within the council who seem to believe they can pick and choose which terms they are prepared to apply and which terms they can ignore.
“Things should never have been allowed to get to this stage. This is a local issue, which we would much prefer to have resolved, locally.
“Unfortunately the councillors we have approached and the senior officers who advise them have clearly illustrated by their actions (and inactions), that they have no interest in treating the club fairly.
“Having been forced into this position we will now accept whatever decision is made by the Arbitrator as being conclusive and binding and trust the council will, belatedly, honour its contractual obligation to do the same.”
Club director Ian Croad feels that the club is now losing vital revenue due to the situation.
“The council cannot continue to deny us the revenue lost by its breaches of contract while forcing us, under repeated threat of lock-out from The Shay, to pay what they say we owe when they say we must pay it, without giving us a forum to air our legitimate grievances.
“We are contractually entitled to seek remedy by way of arbitration and are going to have to do so.”
Dan Hirst, partner in the dispute resolution department of the company’s Leeds office, confirmed that Chadwick Lawrence LLP filed an application on behalf of the club on July 7, for the president of the Law Society to appoint an arbitrator.
“We expect the appointment process to take about three weeks,” he said.
“After which time the individual appointed will give directions as to how the arbitration should proceed.”