Plans for a new stadium in Workington have been hit by a change to the council leadership, which could result in no 2021 World Cup games being played in Cumbria.
An 8,000-capacity stadium to be shared by the town’s rugby league and football clubs, on the site of Borough Park, has been thrown in to turmoil after Labour surprisingly lost the recent local elections.
Fans recently demonstrated in support of the stadium development, while an online petition has been launched.
World Cup chief Jon Dutton has confirmed that if the stadium doesn’t go ahead, then Cumbria will not host games in the tournament.
He met with representatives from the newly-formed executive committee at Allerdale Council last week to discuss the opportunities and risks of the stadium project, and there is a further meeting planned later this month.
Back in 2013, a new stadium in Whitehaven was slated to host games before that development fell through, with games instead hosted at Derwent Park.
Dutton said: “We are aware of the leadership changes at the council and the potential impact this may have on the stadium project. Since the local elections we have, and will continue to have, dialogue with the council.
“We completed an open bidding process in 2018 and the impressive Allerdale bid included the new stadium. Our decision to host games in Allerdale was conditional upon the stadium being built as there are no viable alternatives available locally. As confirmed previously, we have a contingency stadium should the new facility not be developed in the agreed timeframe. This stadium is not in Allerdale or West Cumbria.
“We remain committed to working with the partners in Allerdale.”
Workington played their League 1 game against Coventry at Borough Park, home of football club Workington Reds, on Sunday, with the Reds due to move to the rugby club’s Derwent Park home while building work takes place.
But with doubts over the whole project, the football club are seeking assurances of its future before moving out of their home.
When Allerdale was chosen as a host region earlier this year, the World Cup said: “Allerdale has shown tremendous ambition, fuelled by the development of a new stadium in Workington. The Rugby League World Cup in 2013 created some wonderful memories and with the new stadium, they will stage three men’s games which I am confident the passionate community in West Cumbria will embrace.”