Lifeline for Blue Sox as sale deal goes through

THE £2.3 million sale of Thrum Hall to Asda has finally been completed.

After five years of negotiations and setbacks, the solicitor for the Thrum Hall trustees today announced the money had been banked.

And the deal will hand the Halifax Blue Sox a financial lifeline.

The rugby club is due back in the High Court in London tomorrow over an unpaid Inland Revenue bill for 206,000.

The four Thrum Hall trustees were meeting this morning to decide where the cash should go - and how much the Blue Sox will receive.

"After five years, it's a relief to finally get the money in the bank," said the trustees' solicitor, Mr Michael Gledhill.

"It is too early to say who will be getting what money, but that is the point of the meeting.

"But the rugby club's debt to the Inland Revenue has to be sorted out sooner rather than later."

The Blue Sox, Halifax Cricket Club and the Halifax Bowling Club each have one representative on the trustees, backed up by one independent.

A spokesman for Halifax Blue Sox said the completion of the sale was "tremendous news".

"It seems to be possibly the longest, most drawn-out sale of property in Calderdale," he said.

"We require a substantial part of the proceeds in order to discharge significant debts, particularly to the Inland Revenue.

"The majority of our creditors have been very sympathetic to our situation."

He said the club could lose its Super League status if tomorrow's winding-up order is granted, and Blue Sox officials had arranged a meeting with the trustees' solicitors today to discuss their share of the Asda cash.

As part of the deal, Halifax Bowling Club will get a new green and clubhouse and Halifax Cricket Club will receive a share of the Thrum Hall proceeds to create a new pitch at Exley. Halifax Hockey Club also hopes to get two pitches on the new site.

Asda unveiled its detailed proposals to build the 20 million store in November 2000, creating 100 new jobs.

Asda's store at Battinson Road has been used since 1967 - but the new 40,000 sq ft development will be one third larger than the existing supermarket.

Calderdale Council approved a planning application in June but it had to be referred to the Department of the Environment, partly because it involved converting land earmarked for sport and leisure to retail.

Thrum Hall has become a popular playground for arsonists and vandals in recent years and it is not yet known when work on the the new store will begin.