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Friday, 21 November 2014

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Cash offer made to resolve Whitehaven stadium stalemate

Partners in Whitehaven’s proposed £5.5 million community sports stadium have made a six-figure cash offer to the Recreation Ground’s landlords in a bid to ensure it goes ahead.

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Shambles: Stadium plan

Related: 'Too early to move World Cup games from Whitehaven' says RFL

But they are ready to make a last-gasp switch to the proposed access route if no agreement can be reached.

The planned Pow Beck project was thrown in to doubt when landlords Whitehaven Miners Social Welfare last week reportedly asked for £750,000 for access to the new stadium along their road.

Talks are continuing to find a solution, but time is running out as the stadium is due to host two matches in the Rugby League World Cup in autumn 2013, and the fixture list will be released next week.

If partners in the project – Whitehaven Rugby League, Whitehaven Amateurs Football Club, Copeland Council and Britain’s Energy Coast – find another access to Pow Beck the Miners will miss out on a cash windfall.

Meanwhile, the Rugby Football League (RFL), the sport’s governing body, is monitoring the situation and is not yet ready to pull the plug on west Cumbria’s World Cup plans.

“Ralph Rimmer [chief operating officer] has been speaking to both the local authority and the Miners, and we are doing what we can to make it happen,” said an RFL spokesman today.

“We won’t make any announcement until next week.”

The Miners say they have been made scapegoats, claiming no financial demands have been made of stadium development partners. Brian Birkett, secretary of the Miners’ Welfare, said in a statement: “Whitehaven Miners fully support the Pow Beck development project and the bid for the World Cup matches.

“A lot has been written in the press over the last few days and we would like the people of Whitehaven to be aware of the facts. The project is currently struggling because basic project management principles have not been followed. It appears a scapegoat is required and the Miners are in the frame.”

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