London Irish to continue playing in Reading in 2017-18 season

London Irish playing at Madejski Stadium
A crowd of 11,671 for London Irish v Cornish Pirates at the Madejski Stadium set a new record for a regular-season Championship fixture

London Irish will continue playing in Reading next season even if they miss out on Championship promotion, chief executive Bob Casey has said.

The Exiles have applied to groundshare at Brentford FC's planned new stadium.

The Madejski Stadium looks set to continue as Irish's "home ground" until the Lionel Road site in Brentford is completed - hoped to be in August 2019.

"It's very difficult for us to make ends meet renting a stadium off Reading FC," Casey told BBC Radio Berkshire.

"We have to look at it from a commercial side of things," the former Exiles second row added. "Where rugby is going at the moment, for us to be able to compete, we have to generate much more revenue.

"The best way to do that is to get more bums on seats and having a better deal with the stadium we play at."

Irish, who are looking to return to the Premiership at the first attempt this season, are contracted to play at the Madejski Stadium until 2025-26, but the deal does contain a break clause.

Hounslow Borough Council granted the club a licence in February to play rugby at Lionel Road, but construction of the planned 20,000-capacity stadium is yet to begin.

"We've been very upfront with the supporters that we're exploring all the options and the potential to play in London back to our roots," Casey said.

"We're in discussions with Brentford, but as yet nothing has been finalised. We'll let our supporters know every step of the way."

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