World-class squash in Hull could last for years

A DEAL bringing world-class squash to Hull for the first time could last for many years, according to the man behind the project.

Hull City FC owner Assem Allam officially formalised his three-year agreement to sponsor the Allam British Open Squash Championships at a special contract signing ceremony at the KC Stadium.

Also present were current men’s world No 1 Nick Matthew, from Sheffield, and Harrogate’s world No 2 in the women’s game, Jenny Duncalf. Nick Rider, chief executive of England Squash & Racketball and former world No 1 Lee Beachill, from Huddersfield, and now chief operating officer for the PSA, who run the men’s world tour, also attended.

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Squash legend Jahangir Khan – a 10-time winner of the British Open winner – added a touch of glamour when he flew in from Kuwait.

The event has been absent from the world tour calendar for two years due to governing body ESR being unable to secure adequate funding to stage the event.

The new deal will see the prestigious tournament return to the O2 Arena in London next May. After that, the event will transfer to Hull for 2013 and 2014 with Mr Allam thought to be keen to extend it’s stay in East Yorkshire.

Initial plans were for the event to be staged at a new ‘sports village’ built beside the KC Stadium proposed by Mr Allam and his family.

But after agreement couldn’t be reached between Mr Allam and the city council over the sale of the KC Stadium, a new sporting development, comprising Olympic-sized swimming pools and world-class squash courts will now be housed elsewhere, with a venue for the 2013 British Open still to be determined.

“I would like to see this association continue for many years,” said Mr Allam at the signing ceremony.

“I thought it was time to bring squash’s most prestigious event to Hull and East Yorkshire so I have committed myself to three years.

“I’m a great believer in sport being the most powerful tool to help communities. It makes people healthy, to become members of a team, to accept winning and losing - you don’t see the younger generation with ASBOs when they are a tennis player or a squash player.”