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Rugby teams should stop renting football stadia

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John Beattie | 09:36 UK time, Monday, 9 August 2010

I like multi-sport stadia and do not like rugby teams playing at football grounds. Why should we give the richest sport more money by renting their places?

A long time ago I ran in the 400 metres final at the Glasgow schools athletics championships.

Coming in last, I reflected on the fact that I had told the athletics teacher that I could run the distance a full 10 seconds faster than I could, and that it was the end of the cricket season and I hadn't done any sprinting.

Later that night Brendan Foster, the distance runner, was churning out laps faster than mine in a televised 10,000 metre race.

Back then Scotstoun stadium in the west end of Glasgow was a run down thing: cinder track, Victorian facilities and primitive with a capital P.

When I first got capped we went to France, and our training base before the international was a typically French multi-sport facility with a rugby pitch, a couple of modern stands, a track, and some top spec indoor facilities. Scotstoun Stadium in Glasgow, where John Beattie believes Glasgow Warriors should call home

I can remember the Scottish rugby team sitting there thinking: "The French have these in every town and we don't have any but need them."

Ladies and gentlemen, I invite you to have a look at Scotstoun stadium in Glasgow now. It is a thing of beauty and now the training base for the Glasgow Warriors.
There is indoor track, an outdoor track, a pitch in the middle and two training pitches, one of which is artificial.

The facility also houses the national tennis and badminton set ups, and a public access swimming pool.

There are new stands, catering outlets, the Glasgow Warriors office and a fantastic gym. Everything you could ever want - except that the pitch is not used.

I swear, having cycled down there last week, it's the perfect rugby location.

The Glasgow Warriors use Firhill stadium, home to Partick Thistle Football Club. Or as they used to be called "Partick Thistle nil".

It's a great wee stadium; the noise clatters off the metal roofing of the stands and the pitch is beautifully kept.

But, being a football stadium, the pitch is narrow and by accident of location it's a nightmare getting parked.

They say you can't get a rugby pitch inside an athletics track and there are other considerations as to ground capacity and undersoil heating.

But I was told by someone high up in Glasgow City Council that they have measured a potential pitch at Scotstoun and it would be bigger than Firhill's - probably having sneaked up there with a tape measure.

Come on rugby; stop paying football club owners cash to rent their facilities.

Sale play at Stockport County's ground, Wasps at High Wycombe's, Saracens play at Vicarage Road, and my way of looking at that is that it's rugby clubs playing on narrow pitches and giving money to football.

Instead we should all adopt the French model: negotiate hard with local authorities to develop joint facilities.

I think Glasgow Warriors should move to Scotstoun if it can be done. What a place...


  • Comment number 1.


    I agree that Rugby clubs should have their own grounds, rather than sharing with Football clubs but I can't see any local authority, particularly with the current financial situation, looking to spend a couple of million on a sporting complex.

    I find watching Rugby at football grounds quite a depressing experience (some of this might be down to Gloucester recently abysmal away record, but I also think the grounds are souless and have very little atmosphere). But I don't necessarily think that this would change if I was watching the game in a French-style multi use stadium. Increasingly I can see Rugby and Football clubs pairing up organically - Sale/Stockport County; Saracens/Watford; Wasps/Wycombe; Irish/Reading and look to build new shared stadiums together, sharing revenue, costs and facilities through private initiatives rather than through public funds. Correct me if I am wrong but I believe the situation in Scotland is slightly different as Glasgow are funded directly by the SRFU and the SRFU would and could help in the funding of any new stadium.

    With the exception of Bath, all the rugby only grounds in the Premiership have had a decent amount of investment over the last few years which hopefully will continue. Again in all of these cases this has been funded by the clubs themselves, with very little help from even the RFU.

  • Comment number 2.

    John - the new Scotstoun stadium is great, in fact its fantastic a training facility, but I'm not sure how great it would be to watch a game of rugby there. Perhaps your eyesight it much better than mine, but I think I'd need a pair of binoculars to see what is going on. I know too many people who don't watch live rugby because "you can see what's happening better on the TV," and moving to a location where your miles from the action would I think outweigh some of the positives you cite for playing competitive games at Scotstoun.

    Also, can someone, perhaps your good self, finally lay to rest the notion that the Firhil pitch is small. I was under the impression that the Murrayfield pitch was narrowed for for the RWC in 2007 to 68m instead of the usual 70m, thus brining it in line with French grounds. The Firhil pitch is listed as being 111 x 76 yards which would give it a width of 69.49 m. We could have a guess the width of the pitch competition at half time instead of the usual quiz.

    On a more serious note , I understand that Firhil will at some point will undergo a degree of redevelopment. Te Herald a while back carried an Architects drawing. The SRU/Warriors should IMHO use this as a window of opportunity to become stakeholders in the ground and not just tenants, indeed lets buy it and rent it out to Partick Thistle! As part of the proposed redevelopment a section of the old main stand will be demolished. Why can't as part of this work they take out say 4 rows of seats, alter the line of the roof, and thus extend the width of the pitch?

  • Comment number 3.

    John, as a former international youth and junior athlete converted back to rugby this year, i cannot agree more with your comments. Come wintertime that track/outdoor area will be empty. No competitions will be taking place and few people will have the need to train on it. There is plenty of room for glasgow supporters on both stands, with the option of putting temporary seating behind the dead ball lines on the Pole Vault and High jump areas. The main stand also offers a fantastic view of the pitch, and i would be ecstatic to see the Warriors play home games here.

  • Comment number 4.

    Glosssaint - yup, the teams in Scotland are directly funded by the SRU. But the SRU has no money, as unlike football - given a stadium up here by the government - the governing body spent over £100m on rebuilding Murrayfield for the new era. I know that both Edinburgh and Glasgow are trying to get outside investment at the moment and your point about English rugby growing organically is a good one.

    Theosportsfan - When i was down at Scotstoun I went up into the stands - the view is absolutely fine and you would be closer to the action than at Firhill. The stadium is a peach. In terms of pitch size I am away now to do some research on Firhill but I paced a possible pitch out at Scotstoun and it would fit a 70m width pitch.

    Just called youngest child who is sitting in the sunshine in London, it is raining in Glasgow and off to the cremation of a great man of rugby, Frank Hogarth, who helped West of Scotland rugby club with such vigour that it was humbling.


  • Comment number 5.

    here's the thing - a bit of research. firhill is not narrow, well just 1 metre narrow at 69m, it is short, and folks have got into the habit of going there. Scotstoun is 100 percent set up for athletics as there is a jumps bit, a sand pit, a throwing circle, some manholes in the middle of the pitch, and as it's an 8 lane track there are issues at the corners.

    Preparing all that stuff each week would cost someone a lot of money

    But surely a council backed plan would change this during a time of year when it lies empty?

  • Comment number 6.

    'like multi-sport stadia and do not like rugby teams playing at football grounds. Why should we give the richest sport more money by renting their places?'

    Can that also include Scotland not playing at a soulless rugby ground called Murrayfield which is half empty, even during the Six Nations. And that to has a pointless athletics track round it that is hardly used - yes I know it was built for the Commonwealth Games, but that was a long time ago.

  • Comment number 7.

    Wasps are currently involved in a joint development with Wycombe Wanderers and Wycombe District Council to build a new 20,000 seat stadium in the High Wycombe area which is great. Unfortunately for anyone who prefers to get to a stadium sans car to - ahem - soak up the atmosphere better, the favoured site is an air field near the M40.

  • Comment number 8.

    I have not been but I understand Headingly is a decent set up with Rugby League / Rugby Union and Cricket all in close vacinity . They are all great clubs in their own right but together they give community focus. They share certain facilities I believe . I am not one who likes shared football stadia but I also dislike the running track situation.

  • Comment number 9.


    You state that Sale play at Stocport County's ground, that is not true. The ground is owned by Sale (Cheshire Sport) and it is indeed SCFC who have to pay rent to play on it. This has been the case for a few years and would have taken 10 seconds with google to confirm.

    Also the ground (Edgley Park) was built as a rugby ground and then taken over by SCFC. This article sums up current BBC rugby coverage, inaccurate and poorly researched. The current Aviva comings and goings article is pure rubbish, it names 4 players joing Sale this season, only 2 are correct and it misses off about 6 more who have signed!

    Rant over.

  • Comment number 10.


    I agree that rugby teams need to move away from footy stadiums and the new Glasgow training facility looks very fine.

    But just to recap, you want a pitch with a running track on the outside (notorious for killing atmosphere) and as I recall you want no drinking and a crowd that loves booing the opposition. Your preferences for a sporting rugby atmosphere are pretty suprising!

  • Comment number 11.

    John - I am sympathetic to the point your making, that a sport which does not have loads of money, should show good stewardship of their money and paying rent to football clubs for the use of their grounds does not seem to fit this criteria. However, how could I possibly be closer to the action at Scotstoun, there's a running track between me and the action!

    The other issue is that the seating capacity at Scotstoun is not adequate if the Warriors are to continue to grow their crowds. I think that the move to Scotstoun is a statement of the clubs ambitions, but to hold regular games there would be a step back. The capacity of the stadium is only 5k. So we'd not fit everyone in who came to the Glasgow v Edinburgh game (8,830). I'd like to think that this year we may see a number of crowds at Firhil over the 5k mark. Presumably if temporary stands were built at an end of the track (a) it would be costly - thus not good stewardship (b) we'd have to pay some sort of compensation to Scottish Athletics for the lost of their training facility.

  • Comment number 12.

    Hi John,

    Good piece and I am in agreement with your comments about Rugby passing much needed revenue to Football.

    I think you will find though in the case of Sale and Stockport County, it is now the other way round that the ground although originally owned by County is now owned by Sale. Which when you speak with the ardent County fans is one of the reasons that they went into liquidation as they were no longer receiving revenue from the rugby, this is as well as bad t&C's to do with the rent they received.

  • Comment number 13.


    Theosportsfans comment earlier on about the SRU doing something with Partick Thistle in the refurbishment of Firhill is an interesting one. If this does ever actually go ahead then surely the question must be why didn't the SRU do this at Hughenden? Hughenden is to undergo a major reconstruction in the near future with a new clubhouse and pitch, which if the SRU had invested in, would have resulted in a rugby home for the Warriors and kept money in rugby and away from football.
    Just wanted to know if you think they have missed something here?

  • Comment number 14.


    I do agree that it is annoying to see SRU money going to football clubs. However, although initially it may seem that football are the sole profiteers from such joint ventures, what Rugby gains from sharing grounds can also be seen as very beneficial. First things first, there is no requirement to obtain massive amounts of funding in order to build such facilities (I would much rather see the football clubs in debt than the SRU). As well as this there is also the potential to attract new supporters of the game (i.e. football fans may be intrigued to go and watch the rugby at their home stadium to see what its all about?). It is also easier to promote rugby to a wider geographical audience, for example the games that have been played at Pittodrie, and age group matches also having being played in places like Inverness CT's ground, etc.
    The facilities provided by a football club are top notch, and although the pitches may not be a perfect size I still think it is an easier solution than trying to create an athletics/rugby complex. In addition to this, I agree with some of the above statements suggesting that the atmosphere in such a place would be dull in comparison to a cramped, jumping football stadium.

    Interesting blog though!

  • Comment number 15.

    Football is massively more popular than Rugby in term of players, commercial interest and for a viewing perspective the recent audience for the Summer Tests V Argentina are sobering compared to the 500% increase that Denmark V Cameroon got at the same time over on STV. And this seems to be a recurring theme of yours this Hampden V Murrayfield comparison. Football is after all the national game Rugby is not!

    1, Hampden also hosts far more Games/events so contributes far more to the West Coast economy than Murrayfield does for the Edinburgh/East Coast economy. Murrayfield has planning constraints, which need challenged. Until then does not deliver the yield it could/should?

    2, The SRU should consider selling off 50% of Murrayfield or make it the O2 Scotland and use the extra funds to build two or three x 6-9000 seater grounds probably Glasgow/ Livingston and Dundee- Aberdeen

    3, So why not also investigate Scotstoun for the Warriors for when their lease at Firhill expires? That does prompt would it be better atmosphere than Firhill?

    4, Why then not also ask the SRU to a "feasibility study" on one of the big Edinburgh Premier grounds and see of any can become 6-9,000 capacity.

    5, Could any of the existing Edinburgh Premier teams' grounds have this done? And still allow them to play there as well? Also the Premier teams are nearly all allied to private schools each with charitable status, who all sell land and don't pay any CGT e.g. Spanking new set of flats For Sale at Goldenacre and yonks ago was Hughenden not similarly developed? All profits retained by said clubs/charities I’d assume.

    6. And I doubt if any Local authority e.g. ECC will come forward and revamp Myerside/ Goldenacre/ Inverleith etc and then have to deal with that particular "hot potato". Not being political but stating a fact, which when the public sector cuts come will impact upon leisure provision for sure.

    Address these points and Rugby may get more funding, till then it will remain a massively high profile, hugely exciting but a minority sport. And the only "traditional" Rugby country without a Broadcasting Deal, just speculate how much could be leveraged on the back of say £3M- £5M extra per year for the Professional clubs.

  • Comment number 16.

    Actually do you think the Scottish rugby team ever sit down during a training session prior to a match at Murrayfield and wonder, why is this stadium a multisport venue with a silly athletics track going around the ground putting us further away from the fans?

  • Comment number 17.

    John, We at Hyndland RFC would love to see Glasgow playing fulltime at Scotstoun,the view from the new stands is fantastic.I personally do not go to watch the Warriors,for the very reason that it is a Football Pitch, I have asked the SRU why we are investing money in Football and not Rugby,nobody can give me a clear answer.

  • Comment number 18.

    John - as much as I'd love to share your disatisfaction for playing rugby on football grounds unfortunately I cannot comment. This is because in Gloucestershire rugby tends to take a priority above all else. This results in beautiful grounds like Kingsholm, where the city is the club, and the club is the city. There's something beautifully poetic about it.

    However I do know that groundsharing tends to cause numerous scheduling issues, also tends to tear up what can be an already waterlogged and damaged pitch at particularly bad times of the year.

    By the way, how's your lad doing after his surgery? Recovering well I hope.

  • Comment number 19.

    Had a season ticket for Glasgow for as long as they've been available. If we move to scotstoun, I quit. I remember when the east coasters played at Meadowbank, it was hellish. Nae atmosphere at all, a full running track between you and the pitch just kills it off.

    I'd rather the money was staying in rugby too, but there has to be another answer, instead of just killing off the atmosphere we've been trying so hard to build.

  • Comment number 20.

    Hello Grumpy247,The point is with this argument is that it would be the Warriors Pitch,have you had a look at Scotstoun ?. We all love Rugby in the westend of Glasgow but if you get 5,000 for every game in a full stadium,surely they will make noise.I felt the same way about Firhill as you felt about Meadowbank,but it would be good to see the Glasgow Warriors play at Scotstoun Stadium.

  • Comment number 21.


    Pie in the sky

    What is the alternative to paying football clubs to use their facilities

    fianance a purpose built multi sports facility (who would pay)

    What crowds do Edinburgh or Glasgow get regularly I am guessing 3 to 4 thousand in the Heiniken and half that in the Magners

    How can this sustain the running costs

    Then they would have to look at other revenues, car boot sales, meeting rooms, funeral teas, lottery funding, weddings etc.

    The football clubs have explored and miilked these avenues to death

    Perhaps they would hire the staduim out to small football clubs on a match by match basis !!!!

    Scotland proved that rugby is and always will be a minority sport when it went from 4 geographically spread teams (Midlands and borders)

    To just the ones now that have a population base

    In the next 5 years football clubs in similar areas will either fold or join together ie arbroath, Brechin, Montrose, Forfar.

    And unlike rugby these are teams with history and tradition

    As much as it pains me we will only ever have one true rugby ground in Scotland and only ever fill it on 4 or 5 times a year.

    It will always be in debt

    And will even hire itself out to European matches for Hearts

    The number one sport in Scotland is dying at lower club level and rugby except for Internationals will go the same way

  • Comment number 22.

    The real issue is that the Warriors need to keep developing a bigger fan base.

    The players on the pitch and the management team are doing their bit, even the SRU seem to have a forward looking plan.

    The big problem is media coverage. The Scottish media almost completely ignores rugby especially beneath international level. Even though the two pro teams have been doing so well. You have to accept that the media will be giving the audience what they believe they want and there clearly isn't an enormous demand for watching rugby. I believe the underlying reason for this is that not enough rugby is played in schools and it is perceived as a sport for posh boys. The SRU and Scottish sport need to work hard to change this perception.

    That would mean a larger potential audience. At the end of the day if its a full Firhill or a full Scotstoun doesn't matter. Although choosing a stadium from a position of strength sounds preferable!

  • Comment number 23.

    some of this might be down to Gloucester recently abysmal away record, but I also think the grounds are souless and have very little atmosphere.


    To be fair John,

    The lack of Atmosphere is down to the size of the crowds. London Irish and Saracens average crowd at Reading's and Watford's grounds are 55 and 49% of capacity respectively.

    Half empty stadiums, thats why the atmosphere is poor compared to actual home games for Reading and Watford.

    If the AP clubs had the money they would look into building their own grounds (like Bath are doing) or building a truly shared ground like Wasps are trying too.

  • Comment number 24.

    I agree a small stadium providing atmosphere would be terrific for the Warriors. It is the lack of atmosphere that puts many existing potential Warrior supporters off (amongst remaining antipathy towards professional rugby and its impact on clubs but it is time for these guys to join the real world).

    While we have made real strides at Firhill, despite the ground and the pitch, I am uncertain where we can go to allow this to continue or grow. I also worry where the money will come from? Scottish Rugby is skint, have no sponsors for the Autumn series, no TV contract and have the empty Murrayfield as a continuing problem. While the pro teams are potentially getting weaker with recent player losses.

    A French model would be great but with the Commonwealth Games and a recession, I can't see much sympathy for rugby. I always liked Hughenden and thought it had potential, and a better location than Firhill (we don't all live in the west end) so it is disappointing we lost the link for whatever reasons.

    I have not been to the new Scotstoun, but the old one was soulless for rugby (albeit a long time ago) and pretty useless for parking (just like Firhill).

    I keep hoping I might win the lottery and help ....but only after I help my local rugby club (not much money needed for this!). Until then I regret that we must dream...........

  • Comment number 25.

    I am divided - I like the fact the Scotstoun would be ours and the running track doesn't bother me, however, I like Firhill and I think the atmosphere is good there. I have one question though:

    What would happen for the 1872 home leg? A 5k capacity would not suffice and that is a massive loss of revenue for the SRU is they need to turn people away at the gates od Scotstoun.

  • Comment number 26.

    Whilst I agree with the logic and sentiment of keeping SRU's cash within Scottish rugby any thoughts of moving Glasgow Warriors fixtures away from Firhill to Scotstoun has just too many negatives in my opinion. Being old enough to remember Clyde FC's pitch at Shawfield being the width of a greyhound track away from the nearest spectators and Meadowbank FC playing their matches somewhere in the distance beyond a running track I know that such an arrangement is an atmosphere killer. Personally I have never experienced any parking difficulties near Firhill on a Friday night (300 yard walk at worst) and public transport from Glasgow city centre is easy-peasy. Moving away from Firhill would, in my opinion, reduce attendances at Warriors matches and the impact of this could well be severe enough to offset the running cost savings in reduced rent.

  • Comment number 27.

    I personally don't like Firhill it's always cold, un-inviting and hard to watch the games. I preferred Hughenden, but it was and still is a dump and I know Hillhead/Jordonhill didn't really want the Warriors there.

    I would like to watch a couple of games at Scotstoun Stadium, so Warrior players and fans can try it out.

  • Comment number 28.

    "The point is with this argument is that it would be the Warriors Pitch,have you had a look at Scotstoun ?. We all love Rugby in the westend of Glasgow but if you get 5,000 for every game in a full stadium,surely they will make noise.I felt the same way about Firhill as you felt about Meadowbank,but it would be good to see the Glasgow Warriors play at Scotstoun Stadium."

    I play 5s regularly at scotstoun, so I'm well aware of the setup there. I also remember going there in the dim and distant past for the odd game. I liked Hughenden, but the only time I ever heard anything approaching the same noise as gets made at Firhill was when we were over-run with ulstermen. Ask the players, any noise gets focussed onto the park.

    And parking at scotstoun is sooo much worse than Firhill, it's nowhere near a subway station, and it only holds 5000. I know the average gate isn't near that yet, but what does it say about our confidence in being able to further build the support if we move to a smaller ground, that wouldn't even be close to being able to hold the derby crowd?

  • Comment number 29.

    Scotstoun has been used for rugby matches in the past. I remember watching Swansea playing there against a Glasgow team quite a few years back. It would get my vote as it is much easier for me to get to but its small capacity makes it unviable unless they do what Toulon do and use a bigger venue for the bigger matches. Anywhere is better than Hughenden though, which is an absolute dump.

  • Comment number 30.

    I think that any local authority may not allow rugby to be played at any of their facilities due to the health and safty implications. I do agree with you that rugby teams do require their grounds to be sepearte from football pitches due to the width and the nature of the modern day game. Would it not be a better consideration for sucessful rugby teams to be able to join with private enterprises to create multi sport stadia, this could be made economically viable by the fasiclities being made available to the public and corporate clients.

  • Comment number 31.

    Also regarding Wycombe Wasps & Wycombe Wanderers, the same person owns both clubs so they are hardly paying rent to the football club

  • Comment number 32.


    Interesting article but in these economic times I cannot see any progression in this French direction you have pointed out especially when land prices are so much more expensive than overseas. In these times clubs are experiencing downturns in crowds which would not be the automatic catalyst for development of clubs own grounds.

    A point I thoroughly disagree on is the point you make of football pitches reducing the width of a pitch and therefore in someway affecting the entertainment value of the play. As a London Irish fan I would criticise this opinion. It is well known that;
    1) London Irish is well known for the attacking brand of rugby that saw the resurrection of Mike Catt's career, as well as the launch of the careers of exciting running backs as Tagicakibau, Topsy Ojo and lets not forget Delon Armitage. Furthermore, his exploitation of the pitch and some first class back three players has led Brian Smith into the position of England's Attack Coach. The season previous to the last was known for the success of London Irish in Europe and the premiership with resounding bonus point wins and a high try count. So to say the field has hindered the players is a bit unfounded.

    2) London Irish have frequently received the highest crowds in the Premiership and the highest average attendance. Why? The atmosphere is created by the stadium, through the fans, and also, its accessibility plays a part - M4 and Reading town centre. The fact that this stadium is a football stadium primarily has no effect on the crowd here, it's the craic and its the brand of rugby that entertains, great parking options thanks to local businesses, as is the money invested in entertainment, the club shop, concessions stands etc. I'd love to find a London Irish fan who does not go to the games because it's at a football stadium.

    As much negative football criticism is out there these days for various reasons, this ground share is a great success and I believe plays an important role in the success of the club both financially and on the pitch.

  • Comment number 33.

    As a ex resider of Glasgow I can indeed confirm that brilliance of the Scotstoun stadium, but I always thought that the decision to take Rugby clubs to various stadia was one of gate a financial incentive.

    What is the capcity of Scotstoun and would the Warriors fill it?

    Firhill is a freezing stadium, un-inviting and hard to watch the games. I like Hughenden, but then I did live just off Great Western Road.

  • Comment number 34.

    At 12:45pm on 09 Aug 2010, unounos wrote:
    "Can that also include Scotland not playing at a soulless rugby ground called Murrayfield which is half empty, even during the Six Nations. And that to has a pointless athletics track round it that is hardly used - yes I know it was built for the Commonwealth Games, but that was a long time ago."

    A few points:
    1) The reason the Athletics track 'round' murrayfield is hardly used is because it isn't round Murrayfield, only down 1 touchline, granted maybe a little pointless but still, would be interesting to see a 400m race take place there..
    2) I don't think Murrayfield was built for the Commenwealth games.. SRU spent a fortune upgrading the stadium for the National team.
    3) When were you last at Murrayfield for a 6nations?? The atmosphere for these games is always imense - I would agree with you re: the autumn interntionals though - I think ticket pricing is more of an issue here..

    Perhaps you are getting confused with Meadowbank, where Edinbugh used to play... That was built for the Commonwealth Games and has a running track all the way round it and the atmosphere there was terrible as a result...

    I think in todays financial climate shared stadia is a necessity - is just a case of sharing the wealth a bit more if possible...Difficult though as football will always have more money - fact....

    When was the last time you were at Murrayfield during a 6Nations game.. The atmosphere

  • Comment number 35.

    This whole argument is irrelevant. If Glasgow can't even average crowds of 5000 then they would be better of concentrating on improving the team to attract a bigger audience. Until then any ideas about fancy stadiums should be bottom of the list. Also where are these rich football clubs? I can't see many of them in Scotland at present. Surely rugby with its high percentage of affluent supporters can afford to raise money itself to stand on its own feet in modern facilities - if not then maybe rugby is just a talking shop (with loud, well connected voices)that wants to have its cake and eat it. Until rugby can demonstrate it benefits the community at large and attracts a large element of the community in participation it deserves its status as a minority sport.

  • Comment number 36.

    Lee Ross
    That's the other side of the coin to what I was saying in point 22.

    This whole debate does have the feel of the cart before the horse...

  • Comment number 37.

    Hi John,

    A bit off topic but have you noticed the Scottish 7s team appear to have pulled out of the Middlesex 7s this weekend... do you think that had anything to do with their first game being against the British Army side and early showers being on the cards?

    I see they have announced the squad for the games:
    and the story states Gemmell as saying "Our preparations will now start in earnest with a view to contributing to a successful Team Scotland in October."

    Doesn't fill me full of hope for the games if they are pulling out of getting the boys competitive game time with only 2 months to go...

  • Comment number 38.

    Lee Ross, spot on mate. Silly arguement this one


    you haven't come out with a good reason for not using football stadia.

    "Why should we give the richest sport more money by renting their places?"

    Well....why not?? Who cares if football clubs make money from rugby. I think the guys in charge of these clubs know what they are doing and if it wasn't working then they would play elsewhere. I also think these clubs realise that playing in the middle of a running track is a horrendous idea as there is so little atmosphere it's not enjoyable.

  • Comment number 39.

    In defence of Murrayfield.
    The intensity of the rugby has a huge bearing on the atmosphere. I've been at many matches (often successful Heineken matches) where the crowd really buzzes. If the rugby is good enough there is little time to peer at the empty seats. Sure it would be great to see Edinburgh with a home match in the semis of the HK and 60000 fans in. But that will be a little way off.
    The facilities are great, parking a doddle (if you are a season ticket holder). And where else can the whole crowd fit into one bar after the match to mingle with players and management

  • Comment number 40.

    Matt_Mardell, you write that "London Irish have frequently received the highest crowds in the Premiership and the highest average attendance." Er, no. Leicester Tigers, season after season have the biggest crowds week in, week out.
    This raises a couple of points. First, London clubs' attendances have gone up in the last couple of seasons because they have used stadia such as Twickenham and Wembley, with these games very well marketed. This has got to be a good thing. My understanding is that only three English clubs are currently profitable over the long term - Tigers, Saints and Glaws - and this is because they have the largest sustained regular weekly followings (with large season ticket subscriptions). If the use of 'neutral' large stadia helps London clubs to build up similar followings and similar long term commercial sustainability then this must be good overall for top class English rugby. In this context, ground ownership seems less important.
    Second, Welford Road is the best and largest capacity dedicated rugby ground in England (other than Twickenham) because the Tigers are the richest club and they are the richest club because they have the largest following (hence their dominance in the tv scheduling). It becomes a 'virtuous circle' where success breeds success. This has been done without a sugar daddy or renting from a football club. Good management and success on the field are pre-requisites for the sort of long term sustainability that allows a rugby club to have their own well developed stadium.
    A few years' ago, it was suggested that Tigers would share with the football club but the deal broke down over who would have fixture priorities. In many ways, it would make much more sense for the Tigers and LCFC to share but a) it was perceived that one or both clubs would have to compromise too much, and b) the Tigers fans just didn't like it.
    In short, rugby is at a different stage of development from football. There isn't a 'one size fits all' solution regarding ground ownership or control - Saracens and Quins in paricular are evidence of this.

  • Comment number 41.

    Rugby Union Clubs should build their own stadiums and not borrow football stadiums.
    The pitches get ruined by playing Rugby on them.
    Witness the state of the pitches at Vicarage Road and the Madejski Stadium.


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