Justin King leaves Gubay to go it alone in Old Trafford row

The chief executive of Sainsbury's, in an email to a member of Lancashire County Cricket Club, has confirmed the supermarket giant does not support Derwent Holdings bitter legal battle with LCCC.

The latest challenge from Albert Gubay's Derwent is due to be heard in the Court of Appeal next week on 4 July. The Isle of Man-based property investor is seeking leave to appeal the High Court decision in March upholding Trafford Council's approval of the cricket club's £32m proposals that includes a 100,000 sq ft Tesco store.

Derwent was previously refused planning permission for a Sainsbury's at its nearby White City retail park and accuses Trafford Council of double standards for allowing a Tesco store to be built as part LCCC's plans.

King, writing to club member Geoff Shafer, said: "Whilst it is true that Sainsbury's did once explore the possibility of a store on this site, we are not involved with Derwent Holdings' application. This is also true for the judicial challenge against Tesco's proposed store in Trafford."

Jim Cumbes, chief executive of LCCC, responded: "We note Sainsbury's confirmation that it has no involvement with the White City retail park in Trafford, owned by Derwent Holdings.

"Lancashire County Cricket Club's battle with Albert Gubay has been portrayed in the media as a battle between Sainsbury's and Tesco. In reality it has never been anything of the sort and Sainsbury's has, as their comments confirm, never been involved with Derwent Holdings.

"The legal challenge is an attempt by Albert Gubay to ruin the prospects of future International cricket in the North West, as well as destroy jobs and regeneration in the Borough of Trafford, in order to enhance his own commercial position.

"While we are confident that the Court of Appeal in London on 4 July will resolve the case in our favour, we call once again on Albert Gubay to drop his plans against the club's plans to transform Old Trafford.

"If he did it would bring to an end a protracted legal process which has been draining the club financially and preventing us from bringing Ashes and Test cricket back to the Northwest, which would secure the future of the club."

LCCC's plans include £32m of investment in new pitches, stands, media facilities and an extension to the ground's indoor cricket school and public areas. Two new grandstands and a refurbished Pavilion will ensure a capacity of 15,000, capable of rising to 25,000 with temporary seating, and a screen showing action replays and the new floodlights. The development, which includes a Tesco food store on land nearby, will bring investment of at least £70m and over 500 jobs into parts of Trafford which suffer from low levels of economic activity and employment.

The club is implementing its legal planning consent by moving ahead with the installation of four new 53m high floodlights, which will be completed by the 20-20 match with India in August.

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Further evidence that this is just Derwent making mischief for their own selfish ends. Disappointing but predictable.

By Vaughan