THE York Community Stadium project has been hit by a fresh setback after it was revealed that the three new restaurant units in the east stand have not been let out - despite years of marketing.

And the failure to find anyone to take over the brand new restaurants could cost City of York Council up to £4.4 million, under a deal with one of the stadium’s partners - investment firm Legal and General.

None of the three units has been let out - despite negotiations with restaurant operators dating back to 2017.

As part of a legal deal, a number of the restaurant units must be let out in order for the council to get back some of the money it is expecting from the commercial side of the stadium development.

To move the project forward, a council report says councillors must choose one of three options - all of which will come at a cost.

Option one suggests the council accepts that none of the units have been let out - and that it will lose out on nearly £1.4 million. This would create a hole in the stadium’s budget and cash would need to be found to make up the shortfall.

Under option two, the council could take on the empty restaurants on a 25 year lease. This will not cost anything immediately - but would see the council take on all service and maintenance charges.

A third option would see the council take full ownership of the restaurants - losing the £4.4 million it was expecting to get back under the deal and “allowing Legal and General to walk away without further financial contribution”.

The council would then earn cash from the rent once the restaurants are let out.

“The options will all come with a cost to the council,” a report says.

“Given the impact of Covid 19 particularly in relation to demand for retail and restaurant units the council is continuing commercial discussions in order to determine the best options to recommend.

“At the time of publishing this report the discussions have not concluded and therefore final conclusions and recommendations cannot be made.”

The complex deal dates back to October 2017 when it was agreed by senior councillors. At that time it was considered a “low risk” that all three restaurants would be empty because the developer was already in negotiations for the letting of two of the restaurant units.

Both Legal and General and City of York Council declined to comment.

A spokesperson for GLL, the organisation which will run the stadium and leisure complex when it opens, was not able to give a completion date for the long-delayed project.

They said: “The vast majority of the complex is finished, but as part of the sign off process a number of issues with the drainage system have been identified.

“The building contractor will need to put these right before the complex can be handed over to GLL. It is envisaged that these works and commissioning the final building will take us up to the Christmas period, the building contractors are working hard to minimise this timeframe. We apologise for what is a further delay to the opening programme.

“We, like the community of York, desperately want to see the Stadium and Leisure Complex open and providing the sport, physical activity and wellbeing programmes that it has been designed to deliver.”