London Irish Features
London Irish at the Madejski Stadium
EXCLUSIVE: London Irish sign long-term deal with Reading FC
The Madejski Stadium will remain the Exiles' home until 2026, after a new long-term agreement was signed by Reading FC and London Irish.
A new deal has been agreed between Irish and Reading Football Club, which comes into effect immediately, extending Irish's tenancy for the next 18 years.
Irish first came to Reading in 2000, taking over from Richmond who were the tenants.
Since the first match, attendances have risen - last season's average was over 11,000 - more than double that of their debut season. 22,648 people came to watch the match against Wasps last season - a record for the Premiership.
London Irish chairman, John Conlan, spoke exclusively to BBC Radio Berkshire about the new agreement.
You can hear the interview by clicking here:
Alternatively, read on....
We've been there since 2000 - we've built up a very good supporter base. We've been made incredibly welcome. It's a brilliant stadium - the best in rugby outside Twickenham and the best club stadium in Europe. At the end of the day, it was an easy decision to make.
We had an initial arrangement that we made with Reading Football Club that was expiring in two seasons time and both ourselves and Reading Football Club felt we should sit down and look at the long term. All of these things usually take a bit longer than you expect, but the decision to commit to the long term was an easy decision.
First of all, they reflect more of a longer term partnership. If you cast your mind back to when we first came here, it was the beginning of professional rugby and there was a doubt in everybody's mind that perhaps professional rugby would not survive in the UK.
Our predecessors at Reading - Richmond - had failed. There was a feeling at that time asking if professional rugby would last.
We now know that it will. It's doing well, it's prospering both here and in France. This deal reflects the longer-term future of professional rugby.
Yes indeed. Our discussions with both John Madejski and the chief executive, Nigel Howe, have been very friendly and we've both been keen from the beginning that we had a longer term agreement. There were some problems with the pitch last year, but the pitch has been re-laid and it's in perfect condition.
It would be a very expensive option either for London Irish or for Reading to get out of this particular arrangement.
London Irish and other professional rugby clubs have been approached with all kinds of deals and all kinds of arrangements for stadia elsewhere. But our decision was easy to make. Our business is established in and around the Thames Valley.
We draw from an extremely wide area, both from traditional support from west London, the Thames Valley and right down to the coast. It's brilliantly positioned, it's a very good stadium and quite frankly any other option was dismissed very quickly.
It is a huge game and we hope to see that support there for the guys tomorrow. We're sitting on top of our league table. Yes, we need to win two more games. If we do that Perpignan come second. We'd love to see a home draw for the Heineken Cup - why not play Munster. What a game that would be at Reading!
last updated: 11/01/2008 at 09:13
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