Yorkshire CCC v Lancashire CCC: York CC keen for Clifton Park to remain permanent fixture on county cricket calendar

YORK Cricket Club will hold talks with Yorkshire at the end of the season to discuss the next steps forward for the Clifton Park ground.

The venue has staged Yorkshire games since 2019 and is becoming established in the county calendar.

The initial arrangement was that Yorkshire would play there for three seasons as county cricket returned to York for the first time since 1890.

The catalyst was the need to find another venue in 2019 as Headingley was required for the 50-over World Cup.

Yorkshire Vikings and Northamptonshire Steelbacks at Clifton Park on Tuesday. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

York staged the County Championship match against Warwickshire in 2019 and, after the arrangement was put on hold during the Covid-hit summer of 2020, resumed last year when York hosted the Royal London Cup 50-over games against Warwickshire and Nottinghamshire.

It has continued this season with last Tuesday’s game against Northamptonshire and today’s visit of Lancashire, for which a bumper crowd of around 5,000 is expected.

There is pressure on outgrounds nationwide due to mooted changes to the domestic schedule which could see the number of Championship matches cut, along with a threat to 50-over cricket going forward due to its decreased standing globally amid the rise of T20 franchise tournaments.

However, Nick Kay, the honorary secretary of York CC, said that Yorkshire have been very supportive of Clifton Park ahead of those further discussions later in the year.

Yorkshire played Northamptonshire at Clifton Park on Tuesday. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

“There’s no formal agreement, but the county have said that they will sit down with us at the end of the season and discuss a way forward for next year,” said Kay. “There will be talks, absolutely.

“When we got the Championship game in 2019, it was on the basis that there would be three summers of cricket coming to York.

“Obviously there’s been a huge change at the top of Yorkshire cricket since then, but we had a really positive meeting with (board representatives) Paul Hudson about three or four months ago, Trevor Strain, and Lord Patel was in the conversation as well, and I think there’s an appetite and desire to keep coming back to York.

“Obviously we’ve got to perform – we’ve got to make sure that it’s well-run, it’s all professionally done, that there’s no problems with crowd behaviour, and so on, and we’ve certainly embraced all the bits and pieces that Yorkshire wanted us to embrace in terms of making the ground as welcoming as possible for everybody that comes here.

TALKS: Yorkshire CCC chief executive, Paul Hudson. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

“Yorkshire enjoy coming here and I know from speaking to the guys in operations, to the ticketing staff, that they love it at York and think it’s fantastic.

“So I think we’re starting to become embedded in people’s summers, as it were, which is great, and for example we get people travelling up here from other parts of the country who say that they wouldn’t miss it now because they look forward to it so much.

“The first year was quite stressful because we were stabbing in the dark a little bit, but now that we’ve been doing it for three years then from our perspective it’s quite easy to put the games on because we know how to do it and have probably got it down to a tee now.”

Evidence of Yorkshire’s faith in York, and of its ability to put on a show and a high-quality product, is reflected in this staging of the Roses match.

Yorkshire know that they can confidently take games to York and to Scarborough, of course, their principal outground, and that those fixtures will not only be well-supported but also very well run by the staff at those clubs, along with the Yorkshire staff themselves.

“This game is a great coup for us, a great privilege,” said Kay, with York having created extra seating room this year to accommodate spectators.

“It does show an element of trust that Yorkshire feel that we are capable of hosting a Roses game, and we’re obviously determined to repay that faith.

“When the fixtures come out, you’re not sure what you’re going to get, and then you see that it’s Lancashire and you go, ‘Right, ok, it’s on, then! It’s on!”

Set in 33 acres and with ample parking provision that would make pretty much all county headquarters green with envy, York has a lot going for it and has delivered strongly in every area since 2019.

It does feel, even in that short time, that it has become established in the fabric not only of Yorkshire cricket, but also in a wider game that must support its outgrounds as never before.

“Whether it’s Royal London games, or Championship games, we’d love to continue doing what we do,” added Kay.

“I don’t think we’re ever going to get a T20 game or anything that’s more high profile, as it were, where they need the footfall through Headingley, but hopefully we’ve proved what we can do and these Royal London games sit really well with us.

“Logistically, 50-over cricket is much easier to put on because you’ve got a bit of time between fixtures and less running costs for security, and things like that.

“We just love hosting Yorkshire and all the spectators who come to our ground.”