Rochdale AFC release statement following venue change for England versus Fiji

Rochdale Hornets

Rochdale AFC have released a statement following the venue change for England’s World Cup warm-up clash against Fiji.

The fixture was originally set to take place at Rochdale’s Crown Oil Arena, but has been moved to Salford’s AJ Bell Stadium on Friday, October 7.

Rochdale Hornets confirmed the fixture last year as part of their 150th anniversary celebrations.

However, Football League Two’s Rochdale said in a statement that no agreed commercial contract had ever been signed between themselves and the Hornets.

The League 1 club launched legal action after failing to agree on terms, but was subsequently withdrawn on 21 June 2022.

Rochdale AFC release statement

The football club said in a statement: “Despite a press announcement by Rochdale Hornets on 18 April 2021 that England vs Fiji was to be held at the Crown Oil Arena on 7 October 2021, no signed commercial agreement covering the safety certificate, stewarding costs, terms of use of the stadium or lease for use of the fixture was ever in place for any international fixture between RAFC, the RFL and/or Rochdale Hornets.

“Signed commercial terms for the fixture were requested from Rochdale Hornets but could not be produced.

“Any proposed international fixture is not covered by a 2016 Lease in place between RAFC and Rochdale Hornets, and RAFC has never had any commercial discussions with the RFL.

“Due to Covid-19, the 2021 fixture was postponed on public safety grounds and rescheduled to 2022.

‘Rochdale Hornets chose to launch a legal action’

“Following a request by the CEO of Rochdale Council to both parties to do our best to agree a commercial agreement which covered all safety considerations and in the spirit of a working relationship, head of terms for the international fixture were provided by RAFC to Andy Mazey and Steve Kerr of Rochdale Hornets in March 2022.

“These terms were never accepted. Instead on 19 April 2022, Rochdale Hornets chose to launch a legal action under the 2016 Lease against RAFC relating to the fixture pre-action letter of claim sent in accordance with the Practice Direction Pre-Action Conduct and Protocols of the Civil Procedure Rules 1998.

“That legal action was subsequently withdrawn by Rochdale Hornets on 21 June 2022, since as there was no commercial agreement ever in place to host an international fixture and that the fixture was not covered by the 2016 Lease. There was and is no obligation forced on RAFC to host an international fixture without full safety provisions being in place alongside due commercial compensation for all costs doing so given the safety certificate for the international fixture and thus responsibilities under it all fall on RAFC.

“Rochdale Hornets confirmed to RAFC on 21 June 2022 that the fixture would not be proceeding at the Crown Oil Arena.

“As the responsibility for safety falls on the board of RAFC for an international fixture it is naïve and unacceptable to believe that any international fixture could have gone ahead without documented terms and conditions in place. It is regrettable that having offered fair commercial terms for the hosting of an international fixture, these were not accepted and instead legal action launched.”

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4 Comments

  1. It would have been good for the town to host an International, but totally understand why RAFC would not accept responsibility for hosting and IMPORTANT safety provision without compensation. It’s sad that the Hornets demise over the years is compounded by poor control at the top of their organisation

      • Allegedly RAFC tried to make significant money from this. Perhaps exploitation / blackmail are terms which are too strong, but it would be nice for RAFC to explain why they weren’t able to come to a compromise to benefit the town rather than hiding behind clauses in the lease.

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