Tony Kleanthous: Barnet 'can grow' with London Broncos

Barnet chairman Tony Kleanthous says they could form a long-term partnership with rugby league club London Broncos.

The Broncos, who finished 13th in Super League last season, have agreed a two-year deal to play at The Hive.

"If we find out that we get on well and things are good then we can grow together," he told BBC London 94.9.

"We have got a lot of ideas for the future. What we are trying to do is probably have a bit of courtship before the marriage."

Analysis

Ian Ramsdale, BBC London 94.9

Striking the deal with Barnet was the best of the few potential options London Broncos had.

Throughout the process, they have stressed the importance of finding a partner who would buy into what they are doing and support the game in London. From speaking with Tony Kleanthous, it appears he - and Barnet - are certainly on the first step of the ladder.

Many deals and partnerships have come and gone. The question is could this be 'the one'?

The club will need a bold long-term strategy and direction. That is difficult with only a two-year deal certain, but the external involvement from Barnet could be a key element to securing it.

And, as dedicated London fans have seen before, the biggest disappointment of these scenarios is if the same issues roll on in another area of the capital. If they do, we will be doing this all again in two years' time.

The deal with Barnet saved the Broncos from the threat of administration and secured a new home after their eight-year stay at Twickenham Stoop, the home of rugby union club Harlequins.

London's rugby league side have had numerous homes, including Craven Cottage, The Valley and Griffin Park, since their inception in 1980.

Kleanthous has been negotiating with the Broncos and their owner David Hughes over a possible groundshare since the summer. Broncos chief executive Gus Mackay says the deal has given the club "the best structure to move forward".

"There were times I thought there wouldn't be a London Broncos and I felt that would be a shame," Kleanthous said.

"A lot of time, money and effort has gone into that club and it would be wrong to tear it up.

"I have the utmost respect for David Hughes and what he has done there, but what they have not done is set down any roots. They need to do that and I felt that is where we could help.

"I am pleased we have played a small part in keeping them ticking a little bit longer. Let's hope we will be able to be the final solution for them."

Capacity at The Hive is 5,176 and Kleanthous says the Broncos could be involved if the Bees find a site for a larger permanent home.

I want to see London Broncos do really well just as I want to see my football club do well

Tony Kleanthous Barnet chairman

"Let's be clear - my ambition for Barnet Football Club has always been to build a 10,000 [seater] stadium," he said.

"That is the correct size for them [the Broncos] as well. We will see how we get along and how the sports co-exist alongside each other."

Kleanthous also said the possibility of him taking ownership of the Broncos had arisen during negotiations - but that eventuality was far off.

"We have talked about all those kind of things," he said. "I am not ready at the moment.

"I have a labour of love with Barnet that for some mad, unexplainable reason that I can't seem to be able to get away from. I have to see Barnet do better before I can start thinking about involving myself in other things in that way.

"It has given a new lease of life to London Broncos. I want to see them do really well just as I want to see my football club do well."