Bristol Rovers chairman Nick Higgs revels in stadium move

Bristol Rovers chairman Nick Higgs says the approval of the sale of the Memorial Stadium is the biggest day in the Pirates' history.

Bristol City Council voted to allow Sainsbury's to build a new supermarket on the existing Horfield site.

The sale of the ground means the League Two club can now proceed with the building of a new 21,700 seater stadium in the Stoke Gifford area of the city.

"It's like winning the Champions League," Higgs told BBC Points West.

The Memorial Stadium

The Memorial Stadium
  • Opened in 1920s as the home of Bristol Rugby club.
  • Purchased by Rovers in 1998 from Bristol Rugby when they went in to administration
  • 12,000 capacity

"We've achieved what we set out to do and it's probably the biggest day in the clubs history."

Wednesday's decision will need to be approved by the Government, but this is expected to be a formality.

The construction of the new £40m stadium is expected to start in the summer to be ready in time for the start of the 2015 season.

Rovers are currently bottom of the Football League, two points from safety with six wins from 26 games.

But Higgs believes the stadium development, which has been in the planning stages for 10 years, will provide the club with a much-needed boost.

"You only have to look at the likes of Swansea, Reading and Cardiff to see how these clubs have moved on with a new stadium" he continued.

"We've got to use this as a springboard to take the club forward."

Speaking before Saturday's game with Exeter, on-loan goalkeeper Steve Mildenhall says the Rovers players are also excited for the club's future.

All-new Stoke Gifford site

Bristol Rovers proposed new stadium from above
  • Based at the University of the West of England, Frenchay
  • 21,700-seater stadium
  • Construction starts in summer 2013
  • Expected to be completed in summer 2015

"Coming in this morning, all the lads were talking about the good news for the club.

"I know from living in the area that the club have been after a new ground for a few years so it's a very positive thing.

"It's a great buzz, especially tied in with the great result against Fleetwood last weekend.

"Hopefully we can take that feel-good factor and focus that in to the remaining games."

And John Ward, who returned as manager last month following the sacking of Mark McGhee, says his focus remains firmly on the club escaping relegation.

"Everyone will be happy but they'll be a lot happier if they are playing league football in it," said the 61-year-old.

"I'm delighted for the club and the chairman but I'm sure the fans will forgive me if I don't get too excited. They want a league club to support and that's my priority."