Aviva Premiership side Saracens are on track to become the first professional rugby club to play on a synthetic pitch.
The clubs proposal to renovate the Barnet Copthall Stadium has been recommended for approval by the planning officers of the London Borough of Barnet. The proposal will now go before the Planning Committee for approval.
If approved, the Saracens will be the first professional rugby squad to play their home games on a fully synthetic pitch. Saracens say the pitch has been approved by both the RFU and the IRB.
It’s an interesting development and one I’m sure stimulates mixed opinion! What are your thoughts?
Read on to see the full statement from Saracens…
Statement on Copthall plans
25 Jan 2012 – 10:55
Statement by Saracens in response to report by LBB officers recommending approval for plans to revive Barnet Copthall Stadium.
Nigel Wray, chairman of Saracens, said: “The recommendation to approve our planning application by council officers is a very positive step forward and we sincerely hope that councillors at Barnet will also be able to support the plans.
“The recommendation is the result of a thorough analysis of all aspects of the plans and a lot of hard work to develop the best possible scheme. Issues have been raised throughout the process, such as Green Belt policy and transportation. We have responded positively by amending our plans, providing further information and introducing robust safeguards.
“We are not a normal developer. We plan to make Copthall our home. We are therefore committed to working closely with the local community and becoming a part of it. We want and need local support and we will work hard for it. We absolutely promise that. We will treat local residents with respect and make a positive difference in the area.
“We are delighted with the amount of support that we have received from throughout the local community. This has come from residents, local sports clubs, community groups and schools, all of whom will benefit from the new and improved facilities at Copthall and greater accessibility to them. We absolutely promise that we will make Copthall a community asset that we can all be proud of.”
The revived Barnet Copthall stadium would become home to Saracens who would play up to 16 matches per year on a new synthetic pitch. At all other times (349 days) the facilities would be available to the local community – it will be free of charge to local schools and, of course, it will be a home to Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers and other athletics clubs, who would benefit from new indoor athletics facilities. The award-winning Saracens Foundation would be based at Copthall encouraging local participation in sport and running a wide range of outreach programmes for all sectors of the community.