Demolition of Northampton Saints stand begins

Work taking place at Franklin's Gardens
Image caption Work on the new Barwell Stand is set to be finished by the start of next season

Demolition work on a spectator stand has begun at the home of Northampton Saints rugby club.

The Sturtridge Pavilion will be replaced by the Barwell Stand, a move which will increase the capacity of Franklin's Gardens by 1,900 to accommodate more than 15,500 people.

The all-seater stand will include a new hospitality suite, members' bar and improved disability access.

It will be built in time for next season.

The Sturtridge Pavilion has been a feature at the ground for 50 years but the club is keen to expand its revenue from match days after operating at an average of 98% capacity during the past five Premiership seasons.

The new stand also opens up the possibility of Saints hosting a European Champions Cup quarter-final.

To do that, rules state the ground requires a minimum capacity of 15,000.

Image caption Northampton Saints have been operating at 98% capacity for the last five years

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