Billionaire Mike Ashley, based in Buckinghamshire, is reportedly in the process of acquiring Headingley Stadium and is also linked to a potential ownership of Reading FC. The 59-year-old, who previously held a prominent role at Newcastle United from 2007 to 2021, is said to be purchasing the cricket ground in Leeds for an approximate sum of £23 million, as reported by the Daily Mail.
Yorkshire County Cricket Club, which uses Headingley as its home ground since 1891, is believed to have negotiated an option to repurchase the stadium at a fixed price as part of the sale. Under this arrangement, the club will continue to play at Headingley, operating as tenants of Ashley’s Frasers Group, which will charge Yorkshire an annual rent of around £1 million.
The £23 million from the sale of the stadium will be used by Yorkshire to settle their £15.9 million debt to the Colin Graves Trust. The trust had agreed to defer a £500,000 installment due last month. Yorkshire, having finished second-bottom in the Championship’s second division this year, aims to rebuild and improve their financial situation.
Mike Ashley already owns Coventry City’s stadium in the Championship and is exploring the possibility of acquiring Reading FC. Reading, which is currently at the bottom of League One, has experienced a tumultuous six years, going from having Premier League aspirations to being the basement team in the third tier of English football.
The club has faced several points deductions, which have affected both its on-field and off-field performance. Despite the challenges, Mike Ashley remains interested in buying Reading FC, and there have been reports of his helicopter being spotted near the club’s stadium. Reading recently lost 3-2 at home to top-of-the-table Portsmouth.