York City Knights’ chief says the city is in danger of wasting a “wonderful opportunity” regarding the proposed community stadium if the current plans are pushed through.

In a letter to The Press, executive chairman John Guildford has moved to clarify the club’s position regarding the stadium project - as well as explain their formal objection to the outline planning application that is expected to go before City of York Council in January.

York City director Sophie Hicks said she did not understand the Knights’ reasons for criticising the scheme, which involves rebuilding the rugby league club’s Huntington Stadium home into a 6,000 all-seater venue to house both them and the football club. It will be funded by an enabling retail development at Monks Cross put forward by Oakgate (Monks Cross) Ltd.

As well as dismissing city centre retailers’ concerns as “nonsense”, Hicks claimed the Knights appeared to be “against the principle” of a new shared stadium.

However, Guildford says this is untrue - but argues the current scheme is not community-based, does not offer his club the same facilities as currently provided, and could bring financial trouble for both City and the Knights. He claimed last week it could see his club go bust.

Former Knights chairman Roger Dixon was the first to proclaim the idea of a joint “community stadium” back in 2002, ahead of the re-formed club’s first season. And Guildford, the club’s owner, said: “York City Knights fully support the idea of a community stadium – a true community stadium that will benefit local clubs, communities and schools as well as providing appropriate facilities for York’s football and rugby league clubs.

“We are concerned, however, that the scheme as currently proposed comes nowhere near meeting these objectives.

“The proposal is peppered with oversights and omissions that would have a detrimental impact on the city’s long-established clubs and its sporting infrastructure.

“For example, the council has confirmed the new pitch will only be for first-team matches - so there will be no provision for junior and academy matches and no training facilities.

“The existing Huntington Stadium provides a gym, training facilities and a venue for community activities, as well as a ground for first-team games. The new proposal, therefore, would be a big step backwards in terms of facilities for the Knights and the wider community.”

The current plans would see City of York Athletics Club, who presently share Huntington Stadium with the Knights, move to the University of York.

Guildford added: “The situation could be even worse during the construction of the proposed site. The team (Knights) would be forced to play elsewhere for an entire season, training would be displaced, community events would cease and revenue from our popular bar and hospitality facilities would be lost.

“Similar harmful repercussions will affect York City, the athletics club, the university and the numerous local sporting groups and individuals that enjoy the current set-up.

“Where the proposal does make reference to possible benefits to the wider sporting community, it is worryingly vague. Such assertions need to be tangible and substantiated if we - the people of York - are to have confidence in the project.”

Meetings have been ongoing to find solutions to “shortcomings” but Guildford says none of it is covered in the planning application.

He said: “The council has put forward a number of suggestions to address these concerns, but nothing has been formally placed into the planning submission. As we are being asked to endorse the planning proposal as it currently stands, we have no alternative but to object.

“Clearly, we would be happy to endorse a modified proposal that dealt effectively with these vital shortcomings.”

Doncaster Rugby League Club, who share the Keepmoat Stadium with Doncaster Rovers, had financial woes soon after going into that new ground in 2007, and Guildford was worried York’s stadium business plan under the current proposal could likewise put the Knights, and City, in dire straits.

“As well as sporting clubs, York City Knights and York City are commercial organisations that need certainty if they are to maintain financial credibility,” he said.

“Of course, we accept that improving the city’s sporting arrangements will involve some disruption and some changes to our existing way of operating. The Knights have no issue, for example, with sharing a ground (City’s Bootham Crescent) temporarily with City, and confirmed this as far back as 2003.

“However, there is no clear plan for what happens after that. Such a fundamental matter needs to be comprehensively addressed, otherwise we will follow the example of Doncaster RLC, who went out of business six months after moving into a new stadium with a flawed business plan.”

Guildford put forward his own suggestion for a stadium scheme in October that he believed should be taken on by the council as part of the Oakgate development. It included an athletics track and training pitch behind a 9,000 capacity stadium as well as multi-sports facilities on adjacent land.

Guildford said his vision would overcome restrictive covenants which hindered the current scheme, would not be hampered by a Scheduled Ancient Monument at the site as has been suggested, and would accommodate commercial activities to give both clubs more financial stability than under the present plans.

He added: “A community stadium presents a wonderful opportunity for the people of York, and the Knights believe a carefully considered, thorough and transparent proposal will provide both community and clubs with a solid foundation for the future.

“Regrettably, we are aware City of York Council are pushing ahead with the existing proposal - even though it does not show fair and reasonably what is been provided.”

Click here to see the Knights’ letter in full.

Click here to read the Knights’ formal objection to the planning application in full.