RUGBY League chiefs have confirmed they have a back-up plan in case Allerdale fails to get its proposed £25m stadium built in time for the World Cup.

The 8,000-capacity sporting venue was a cornerstone of the borough council’s successful bid to host the event in 2021.

Doubts have been raised over the project’s delivery with claims it is being “rushed” through ahead of the competition and May’s election.

But council bosses insisted they were “confident” they would be able to meet the deadlines set out by event organisers and that contingency plans of this type were “normal”.

The Rugby League World Cup has declined to share any details of the ‘plan B’ venue at this stage but has pledged to keep everyone updated.

Speaking at a recent question and answer forum, World Cup chief executive Jon Dutton said: “We have set some milestones and the consortium, led by the local authority, have to achieve those milestones.

“We are confident they will reach them, but we will have to work with them to achieve those milestones. Should the absolute worse happen, we have a backup stadium as part of our overall plan.”

The project is yet to go before the council’s planning panel for approval and Borough Park, home to Workington Reds, would have to be bulldozed before building work can start.

Opposition councillors have repeatedly raised concerns over the scale and spiralling cost, branding it a “vanity project”.

Statutory bodies including Natural England, Highways England and Sport England have also requested more information.

Shareholders at Workington Town have been summoned to an “Emergency General Meeting” later this month to discuss the stadium plans, the Local Democracy Service has learned.

Reds’ shareholders have already demanded an extraordinary

general meeting to address fears the club could be left “homeless” following the demolition of Borough Park to make way for the stadium.

But Reds’ Chairman John Mackay has insisted that this meeting would have been convened anyway as soon as a deal was on the table.

He said: “You can rest assured that the shareholders will be informed, and no deal will be signed before the shareholders have had a chance to look at it.

“Ninety-five per cent of any negotiations are confidential – we are still negotiating and hopefully it shouldn’t be too long.

“We are doing everything correctly by the board and running it [the club] in the best interests of the supporters and shareholders, and we will put out any proposal to them once we have got them and it will be up to them to make their views known.”

The sporting venue to house Workington Town and Workington Reds was initially forecast to cost around £15m.

But following news that Sellafield Ltd is interested in moving 300 nuclear workers to the site, the price tag has leapt by £10m to pay for the extra offices needed to accommodate them.

A spokesman from Allerdale council said: “The council’s bid to host the Rugby League World Cup (RLWC) in 2021 included a fantastic new community stadium in Workington. A lot of work has been ongoing with partners at both clubs and the RLWC to get to where we are today, and we are confident we will be able to meet the milestones set down by the organisers of the event.

“Contingency planning by the organisers of this type is normal with any event like this.”