OTLEY Rugby Union Club have voted to move from their historic Cross Green ground after more than 150 years, hailing an exciting new era.

New Otley club chairman Paul Mackie says that their potential move away is an absolute no-brainer.

It may have been the venue for North of England victories over the All Blacks (1979) and the Wallabies (1988) but Mackie says of the 153-year-old club: "It is dilapidated and in need of constant repair and weekly maintenance."

Planning permission is set to be simultaneously submitted to Leeds City Council for both the assisted living development at Cross Green by McCarthy and Stone and Otley RUFC's new £3m-£4m premises to the east of the East of Otley relief road.

Mackie said: "A new facility could deliver a clubhouse and sufficient pitches to secure senior rugby in Otley for the next 150 years.

"We are currently asset rich and cash poor. This could make us asset rich and cash comfortable.

"It could also provide for a springboard into wider sports participation, improve diversity and enhance the sports facilities in Otley."

"Our new premises will be multi sports as it is alongside Old Otliensians RUFC and Otley Town FC and we would also like Otley Ladies' Hockey Club to return there, and there is also the chance that karate and athletics clubs could be based there.

"It is also an absolute bonus for the people living in the 550-600 homes that are being built across the road by Persimmon, and it also a potential home for Ilkley & District Motor Club to have meetings, as well as things like pilates and weddings and funeral receptions.

"We want it to be a sporting village."

The 1200-metre square clubhouse is set to include function rooms, a members' lounge, bar, kitchen, toilets, changing rooms, gym, medical facilities, offices, a meeting room and storage, while the first-team pitch has plans for a stand to seat over 200, while the planned car park can take over 200 cars.

Mackie, who has been driving the project alongside new club president Michael Procter, added: "Otley ward councillors, such as Sandy Lay, Ryk Downes, Colin Campbell and Ray Georgeson, are also on board via the umbrella organisation Sport Chevin."

Approval by members of Otley RUFC for the potential move came at their annual meeting in the clubhouse.

Mackie said: "It was attended by 150 members, of whom 96.5 per cent were in favour of the move, and there was a real mix of members present, such as juniors, women, players and older members.

"It is also very much part of the plan that we remain a National League rugby club, and it is hoped that we will be playing at our new premises for the start of the 2021-22 season.

"January 2021 is when it is hoped that McCarthy and Stone take possession of Cross Green, and it will take about 18 months to seed and make our new premises playable.

"We also want a stand and terracing down there that is fit for National League rugby, while there is also the possibility of floodlighting."

Procter added: "Now we have to deliver."

Apart from voting overwhelmingly in favour of the move, the other main feature of the club's annual meeting in was that about 70 volunteers have come forward to help run the club.

"This will help to drive the club forwards," said Mackie.