Leeds United could be about to open negotiations to buy the historic TV Harrison sports ground in Wortley and add all-weather pitches, changing facilities and space for community meetings.
Campaigners have spent the past three years campaigning against Leeds City Council’s plans to build up to 50 local authority houses on the site.
They claim Leeds United Foundation, the football club’s charity, is about to put in an offer for the Oldfield Lane ground, which has seen past stars such as Brian Deane, Noel Whelan and David Batty play there as youngsters.
The Foundation is writing to the Leeds School Sports Association (LSSA), which is responsible for three-quarters of the site, as they attempt to start negotiations to buy the land. Leeds City Council owns the rest of the site.
LSSA has said it is ‘keen and willing’ to get to know more about United’s plan for the site ‘and their financial offer to the schools of Leeds’ but said they had yet to receive details of the proposal.
In a statement issued to WLD, Michael Meadowcroft, chair of the TV Harrison Sports Ground Association, said campaigners were relishing the prospect of working with the Premier League club.
He said: “The Foundation carries out an extensive programme of sporting and educational activities targeting sectors of the community which are disadvantaged or traditionally hard to reach.
“This includes disabled and socially deprived individuals with a particular focus on youth and women and girls.
“The Foundation believes that the TV Harrison Sports Ground is an ideal venue for the
expansion of its programme, not least due to its proximity to the Elland Road base but also
because it has already has a playable football pitch in addition to a rich historical connection with the club and the development of many of players.
“The Foundation’s vision would be to supplement the existing site with new facilities including – based on consultation with the local community – all-weather small-sided pitches and a building with changing facilities and space for community meetings and educational delivery.
“The TV Harrison Sports Ground Association is fully in support of this vision and is working in close collaboration with the Foundation.”
Leeds School Sports Association secretary Peter McQuillen Strong said: “[We] have been working for well over a decade find a solution for the sports ground on Oldfield Lane that is no longer viable as a facility to be used by the school children of Leeds.
“During this period the Association has always been focused on achieving the best outcome for the schools in Leeds that ground belongs to, and the pupils of these schools.
“We have been openly seeking solutions with the local council and any other parties who can provide a serious proposal for the site, that will ensure the best possible financial outcome for the schools and pupils of Leeds.
“Recently, we have been made aware that Leeds United Foundation may have a proposal to put to Leeds School Sports Association.
“We are keen and willing to get to know more about their plan for this site and their financial offer to the schools of Leeds about the purchase of the land. Currently we are not aware of the details of the proposal, but look forward to considering this in the very near future when the foundation has given specific plans and details to us.”
Leeds United Foundation was contacted this morning for comment.
WLD reported in September that the leader of Leeds City Council has refused to rule out building homes on the TV Harrison Sports Ground – despite previous assurances that the historic site would not be built on. A report to the council’s decision-making executive board indicated the council still aimed to build local authority housing there by 2025.
The council argues that there is a need for more local authority housing to tackle waiting lists in the area.