ORGANIZERS have received fresh offers to house the new National Rugby League Museum as the feud with Kirklees Council continues.
Tim Adams, chairman of the Rugby League Cares charity responsible for finding a new home for the museum, claims the council has broken a legally binding contract by abandoning its plan to restore it to the George Hotel in Huddersfield, the birthplace of the rugby league.
The George, where 21 northern clubs voted to secede from the Rugby Football Union in August 1895 to form what became the Rugby Football League (RFL), housed Mike Stephenson’s collection of mementos and artefacts until 2013 when it was forced to close.
Kirklees Council bought the hotel as part of the area’s refurbishment and won a tender in June 2020 after agreeing to restore the museum to its iconic home.
Since then, the council has claimed the project could cost local taxpayers £20 million and has offered to house the museum elsewhere in the city.
Rugby League Cares, in partnership with the RFL, says it has not yet received details of an alternative plan and is now exploring other options, admitting it is unlikely to go the legal route.
“Accepting the tender document means it will become law, but we’ve already wasted an awful lot of time and we’re a charity, so we shouldn’t be spending money on legal remedies,” Adams said.
“We don’t want to build bridges with the council, we want honesty and if they want to take the museum in Huddersfield seriously, they should make us an offer.”
The charity was at one point in partnership with Bradford Council, with Kirklees beating competition from Wigan and Leeds to secure the right to house the museum.
Adams admits the offer is now up for tender again and says there is new interest.
“If Kirklees wants to make an offer, it would consider it, but we have to consider other options,” he said.
“We are being approached by others who have come to the conclusion that the George Hotel is no longer an option.”
A petition calling on Kirklees to relocate the museum to the George has garnered just under 10,000 signatures.
Councilor Peter McBride, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, says Kirklees remains committed to bringing the museum to Huddersfield as part of the £210 million transformation of the city centre.
McBride said: “Given the impact of the pandemic on the hospitality industry, we have had to carefully consider our investments on behalf of local taxpayers.
“We now know that a combined hotel and museum in the renovated George Hotel would not be financially viable without ongoing costs to Kirklees residents.
“But Huddersfield is the birthplace of rugby league and the sport is an essential part of our heritage. That’s why we’re offering to give the museum a home as part of our major renovation plans in the heart of the city.
“Over the next few years we are building a new Cultural Heart in Huddersfield, with a new library, gallery, food court and entertainment space to attract people to the city.
“We have a unique opportunity to include the Rugby League Museum in one of the largest regeneration schemes in the country.
“By being part of the plans for Huddersfield’s new cultural heart, the museum would benefit from a new home that can both house the museum and be flexible enough to include additional activities to keep fans and visitors entertained in the long run. Pull. .
“It is critical that this plan is financially sustainable in the long term.
“At the same time, we will ensure that the renovation of the George Hotel pays a fitting tribute to the birthplace of Rugby League, commensurate with its importance in the history of the game.
“And there will be a meaningful link between the hotel and the museum, which will be a short walk from each other.
“We have approached Rugby League Cares with our proposals and we really hope they share our vision for a museum that not only celebrates our proud history, but also has a place in our exciting future.”