Lancashire County Cricket Club has postponed its Annual General Meeting as yet another legal action poses a question mark over the financial future of the club.
The AGM was due to be held on April 13, but Bermuda-based Derwent Holdings has confirmed it is seeking leave to appeal the recent High Court decision upholding Trafford Council’s approval of re-development plans for Lancashire CCC’s Old Trafford ground.
Derwent was told by the High Court there were no grounds to appeal this month’s decision. Now it is seeking to overturn that refusal, and has indicated its intent to lodge an appeal with the Court of Appeal.
This last-gasp legal challenge – which comes after an exhaustive legal process in which first central government and then the High Court backed Trafford Council’s planning approval – means that Chief Executive Jim Cumbes and the Board felt the AGM could not take place against such a background of uncertainty.
The legal battle is causing a major drain on club finances and there is a renewed risk of missing deadlines for public sector funds from the Northwest Development Agency.
Mr Cumbes says: "Despite being defeated emphatically in the High Court, and being refused leave to appeal by the High Court judge only last week, Derwent has announced its intent to try and over-turn the High Court judgment at the Court of Appeal in London. We have now been forced to take the unprecedented action of cancelling our proposed AGM, pending the outcome of this latest legal threat.
“Derwent have made so many attempts to derail our project and have been thwarted convincingly at every stage. We remain totally confident that, although they will attempt absolutely everything due to seemingly unlimited financial resources, that we shall succeed eventually.”
"We promised that we will secure a new international cricket ground and bring huge benefits to both the local and regional community and economy. We’ve been supported on our long journey by Trafford Council, by councils across Greater Manchester and by the wider business community.”
Ask Developments’ Alan Burke says: “If this matter ever reaches the Court of Appeal we are confident that it will endorse the legality of Trafford Council's decision to grant planning consent to our scheme in March 2010, as was the judgement reached by the Secretary of State and the High Court.
“It is the further delays that this latest threat poses to our ability to get on site and successfully bid for the 2013 Ashes that remains our constant worry. The commercial motivations behind Derwent choosing to continue this litigation are unclear as it would appear to us that Derwent has nothing to gain.”
As well as the AGM, also being put on hold is the entire £70m investment into parts of Trafford which suffer from low levels of economic activity and employment.
The Tesco store would create hundreds of new jobs for local people, and the plans offer sporting facilities to local schools and the community at large, including an extension to the ground's indoor cricket school and public areas.