Saints to leave Franklin's Gardens?
September 2, 2010
Northampton lost just two games at Franklin's Gardens last season © Getty Images
Northampton are considering leaving their Franklin's Gardens home if they are not given permission to expand the ground's capacity.
The Saints last year reached agreement to sell part of the site to a supermarket chain to finance a proposed expansion of the stadium's capacity from around 13,500 to 17,500. But Northampton Borough Council appear set to block any application from the chain to build on the site for fear it will harm trade in the town centre.
Northampton chairman Keith Barwell told The Daily Telegraph, "This could be our last season here because undoubtedly, while we are waiting for the council, we are already having discussions with the banks and have a plan B.
"We would have to decide whether it is worth putting the club into significant debt by paying for the redevelopment ourselves or share a stadium somewhere else. If the council want to keep the rugby club in Northampton for at least the next 15 years, they are going to have to show a bit of common sense."
The Saints have already had to name the MK Dons' football stadium in Milton Keynes which has a capacity of 22,000, as a secondary venue because Franklin's Gardens does not fulfil the Heineken Cup criteria that knockout matches must be played at venues with a capacity of at least 15,000.
"We have already had discussions with Milton Keynes and we could hopefully fill the stadium for a number of our big games as our database shows there are certain games we could sell 30,000 or 40,000 tickets for," Barwell said.
"On Saturday, four teams will be playing at Twickenham in front of a near full house. On Sunday we will be playing Leicester, who have already increased their stadium to 24,000 with plans to go up to 30,000. Even at 24,000, that means they take £3 million more than us at the gate. We can't afford to stand still."
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