York City Knights left homeless

York City Knights have been left homeless after a dramatic fall out with the local council.

The League 1 club left their Huntington Stadium home at the end of last season to pave the way for a new community stadium which would be shared by York City football club.

As part of the planning conditions, it was agreed that the existing stadium would not be closed or demolished until a temporary home was found for the rugby league club.

They had been due to play at Bootham Crescent, the home of the football club, but a breakdown in talks between the council and Knights chairman John Guildford is set to leave the rugby league club homeless.

In a statement, Sarah Tanburn, Interim Director for City and Environmental Services at City of York Council, said: The Council remains strongly committed to the success of professional rugby league in York and the use of the stadium for both rugby league and football. It is with deep regret that the Council finds that it no longer has confidence in the working relationship with Mr Guildford so is unable to enter back into negotiations with him on the Community Stadium development.

“The Council has developed a package of agreements in negotiation with Mr Guildford over the last two years to be part of the Community Stadium development, which included arrangements for interim fixtures at Bootham Crescent and training facilities at York St John University’s new purpose built sports village. 

“These agreements offered the Knights a fantastic range of facilities and secured a commercially sustainable future for the Knights. In September 2014 Mr Guildford agreed to these terms, then did not sign the agreements, seeking further improvement of his position. He then used formal legal process to contest his vacation from the bar at Huntington Stadium in another attempt to improve his position. 

“At this stage the Council was forced to withdraw from negotiations to protect the financial and legal interests of the council.”

The City Knights announced on Sunday that their scheduled pre-season friendly with Hull this weekend would be played at Doncaster’s Keepmoat Stadium.

A war of words between the two parties has seen both publicly claim to be in legal dispute with each other.

It is believed that concerns were raised over the amount of power and control that the football club might have over their rugby league counterparts, and potential restrictions on the revenue the City Knights could generate from the stadium.

Back in 1989, the York rugby league club sold its Clarence Street stadium and entered in to a partnership with Ryedale Council to develop the Huntington Stadium complex.

But the old York Wasps went out of business in 2002, with the City Knights being set up to fill the void in 2003.

City of York Council are now set to proceed with the community stadium development without the rugby league club’s involvement, which also means the temporary agreement for the club to play at Bootham Crescent has been ripped up.

The football club have said they will not deal with the City Knights unless it changes ownership, which has led to Guildford claiming in the local press that the council want him to sell the rugby league club to Jason McGill, the owner of York City FC.

The City Knights don’t have a home league game scheduled until April 19, when they are due to entertain North Wales Crusaders in League 1.

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