Support from across the world is being shown towards the proposed £32m re-development of Old Trafford cricket ground.
Letters of support have been sent from former Australian captain and cricket commentator Richie Benaud, the family of Jim Laker, who famously took 19 wickets in a Test Match against Australia at Old Trafford in 1956, and former England coach David 'Bumble' Lloyd. David Morgan, President of the International Cricket Council, cricket's global governing body, has also written in support of the proposals.
LCC, Tesco and Ask Developments have been given a deadline of Friday 22 January by Trafford Council for all letters and emails of support, as well as those objecting the scheme, to be submitted to them.
The partnership delivering the scheme has set up a campaign website which has received over 2,600 pledges of support so far.
If given the go-ahead it could mean Ashes cricket returning to the ground in 2013, with plans having already been submitted last November by Lancashire County Cricket Club and its partners, Tesco and Ask Developments.
Speaking about the future of the cricket ground, Richie Benaud said: "Old Trafford has played an important role in the history of cricket and it would be very disappointing and a sad day for the sport if international cricket was never to be played at this famous sporting venue after 2010. I, along with many Australians, look forward to returning to Old Trafford to watch headline grabbing Test matches and intriguing Ashes contests well into the future."
Without substantial redevelopment, the England and Wales Cricket Board has confirmed that after next year's Test Match against Bangladesh there will be no more international cricket at Old Trafford.
The Old Trafford proposals are part of a sports-led regeneration strategy for a 50-acre mixed use neighbourhood. The plans include a Tesco store with approximately 100,000 sq ft retail sales floorspace providing over 500 jobs, half of which would be guaranteed for the local long-term unemployed.
The development alone will bring investment of at least £70m into parts of Trafford which suffer from low levels of economic activity and employment.
Phase one of the development is already underway, with new conference and events suite, The Point, under construction and due for completion in June 2010. The new designs for phase two by architects BDP aim to retain the heritage and history of the famous ground by enhancing the existing pavilion, as well as adding new player, media and conferencing facilities, and an extension to the highly successful indoor Cricket School. Two new grandstands will ensure a capacity of 15,000 capable of rising to 25,000 with temporary seating. There will also be floodlights and a screen showing action replays.
Work must begin by autumn 2010 with completion in late 2012 in order for Old Trafford to bid to host the Ashes Test in 2013.
Trafford Council will be holding its planning meeting on Thursday 11 February.