Haskell defends Wasps' move

2014-10-08 18:15
James Haskell (Gallo Images)

London  - Wasps captain James Haskell has insisted the English Premiership side had little choice but to move to Coventry if they were to safeguard their long-term future.

Founded in London in 1867, four years before the establishment of England's governing Rugby Football Union, the past few seasons have seen Wasps playing home matches at the Adams Park ground of Wycombe Wanderers Football Club , north of London, although their training ground and administrative headquarters have remained in the capital.

But now Wasps are set to play their home matches some 70 miles north of Wycombe at Coventry's Ricoh Arena, which is also the current home of the city's football club.

Wasps' move has dismayed many of their own fans but Haskell insisted the club had few options.

"We were losing 3 million per year for a long period of time," said Haskell.

"(Owner) Derek Richardson came in and absorbed £10 million worth of debt.

"Our deal at Adams Park meant that for every £1 spent we got 50p. There was no other option than to move."

England back-row forward Haskell added: "It's difficult to explain that business side of it to a young fan because of the emotion involved, but Coventry isn't a million miles away.

"This stadium, facility and the matchday experience -- the whole set up will only make the club better...This move has now secured the future of Wasps."

Midlands city Coventry is already home to Coventry rugby club, a major force in the English game in the 1970s but now a third-tier side, and the region also boasts two of the country's leading sides in Premiership champions Northampton and Leicester, as well as Worcester, relegated from the top-flight last season.

Wasps' move has caused anxiety amongst the Midlands' existing teams, with Worcester making their concerns known on Wednesday.

"In response to the recent developments concerning Wasps investing in the Ricoh Arena, Coventry, Worcester Warriors can confirm that the club is seeking clarification on a number of fronts from PRL (Premiership Rugby) and the RFU," a club statement said.

"Most importantly, these concern how Wasps' fan engagement and community programmes will sit alongside the significant investment we have made in our current academy programmes in the area without conflict."

However, Coventry -- the club most likely to be affected directly by Wasps' move -- directed their anger towards the local council.

"Whilst we are annoyed and frustrated at the failure of Coventry City Council to consult with us over the relocation of the Wasps to the Ricoh Arena, we are now resolved to get the best possible deal for our sponsors, supporters and players," said a Coventry statement.

"To this end we will begin immediately to work with Wasps to develop mutually beneficial programmes and partnerships going forward, and to seek reassurances with regards to Coventry City Football Club by Wasps and the Coventry City Council."

Two-time European champions Wasps will play their first game in Coventry against either French side Castres or London Irish in December, the club said.


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