Yorkshire to sell Headingley for £23m

Yorkshire County Cricket Club are to sell the Headingley stadium that has been their home for 135 years, reports say.

The club has agreed to sell the stadium to former Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley for £23m, the Daily Mail reported. Yorkshire acquired the stadium in its own right in 2010, when it bought it from the Leeds Cricket, Football and Athletic Company, founded by former club captain and president Lord Hawke in 1890.

The club will continue to play at the ground, paying Ashley’s Frasers Group rent of £1m a year, and have agreed a fixed price to buy the stadium back in future. Meanwhile Frasers Group will have the right to name the stadium. The group’s brands include Sports Direct, Slazenger and SportsMaster.

The accusation of institutional racism at the club, brought by Azeem Rafiq two years ago, have cost Yorkshire £3.5m in legal costs and compensation. The club made a loss of £2.2m last year, and owes £15.9m to the Colin Graves Trust. Cash raised from the sale of the ground will be used to cover that debt, the newspaper said.

The club attempted to raise funds from the Middle East in spring, but later said it was unwilling to sell the club outright, preferring to remain in the ownership of its members.

The club finished the last season third from bottom of the second division of the County Championship.