<iframe src="https://www.googletagmanager.com/ns.html?id=GTM-P36XLWQ" height="0" width="0" style="display:none;visibility:hidden">

Report: Yorkshire in ‘detailed negotiations’ to sell Headingley to Mike Ashley

Former Newcastle United owner offering more than UK£22m for cricket ground.

6 Sep 2023 Ed Dixon

Getty Images

  • Ashley wants stadium naming rights as part of deal
  • IPL backers and overseas consortium also interested

Former Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley is in ‘detailed negotiations’ to acquire Yorkshire County Cricket Club’s (CCC) Headingley Stadium in a deal worth in excess of UK£22 million (US$27.6 million), according to The Telegraph.

Ashley is reportedly pursuing the deal through his Frasers Group firm, whose brands include the retailer Sports Direct. The 58-year-old is also understood to want naming rights to Headingley as part of the agreement and Slazenger, a Frasers-owned sports equipment brand, has been mentioned as a prime candidate.

Ashley, who sold Newcastle in 2021 to a group led by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), is purportedly not the only one circling Headingley. The Telegraph reports that financial backers from the Indian Premier League (IPL) and a third undisclosed overseas consortium are also in the hunt, though Ashley is at the most advanced stage.

Cash-strapped Yorkshire hope to present a financial rescue package to members within four to six weeks. The Telegraph adds that Headingley is now being considered as a sale and lease option as debt refinancing in the current market conditions appears to be a much more expensive option.

The English county acquired Headingley in 2005 from the Leeds Cricket, Football and Athletic Company in a UK£12 million (US$15.1 million) deal and is seeking ‘cast iron assurances’ the famous venue will remain its long-term home.

Saudi Arabia had been linked with an investment deal but the country is reportedly no longer among the leading contenders eyeing Yorkshire. Ashley and consortiums linked to the IPL’s Rajasthan Royals and Delhi Capitals, meanwhile, have been consistent in their interest in the club since the spring, although they have been refused the option of exclusive talks.

SportsPro says…

Yorkshire have wanted to move on after the club were accused by former player Azeem Rafiq of institutional racism. Attempts to draw a line under the matter and work towards a brighter future have been hampered by, among other things, the county still owing UK£15 million (US$18.8 million) to the Colin Graves Trust. A 48-point deduction for the racism scandal also ended the club’s promotion hopes.

Yorkshire have been trying to attract UK£20 million (US$25.1 million) of new investment since the end of 2022 in a bid to shore up their finances, prompting Ashley to enter talks in May. The former Newcastle owner was heavily criticised by fans during his spell on Tyneside over a lack of spending and ambition. Yorkshire supporters will be wary of Ashley’s involvement at the 160-year-old club and a stadium rebrand is unlikely to go down well – as was the case at St James’ Park.

According to The Telegraph, Ashley’s involvement at Yorkshire would be “limited to him securing a first foothold in cricket”. Selling Headingley would prove controversial but the club will deem the move necessary in order to alleviate its financial plight.

1 / 2news articles read

Enjoying SportsPro content? Create your account and get enhanced access to all the latest stories.


Already have an account?