Wasps in Coventry: Ricoh move to be completed by December
Wasps have announced they will start their new life at the Ricoh Arena in December after acquiring a 50% interest in the Coventry stadium.
The London-based Premiership club will jointly own the ground with the Alan Higgs Trust, allowing Coventry City to play there still as tenants.
"This is a watershed moment in the history of Wasps," said the club's chief executive, Nick Eastwood.
|The ruling authority on Wasps' move to Coventry|
|Wasps' move to the Ricoh Arena was ratified by the Professional Game Board (PGB), which is made up of members from various bodies, including the Rugby Football Union and Premiership Rugby.|
|The RFU had already approved the ground for use as a suitable stadium for Premiership rugby - and would only have opposed the move had it involved the whole club moving 'outside its constituent body'.|
|Wasps' relocation to the Midlands is purely for matches and should not come into conflict with the Academy systems run by other professional clubs in the Midlands - champions Northampton, Premiership rivals Leicester and Championship side Worcester, who opened a new regional development centre in the city, at Broadstreet RFC, in May.|
Wasps will stay at their current Adams Park home for the next two months.
Their first game at the Ricoh will either be the European Champions Cup fixture against French side Castres on Saturday, 13 December, or the following weekend's Premiership game against London Irish on Sunday, 21 December.
Coventry City are away at Port Vale on 13 December and are scheduled to host Fleetwood Town at the Ricoh in a League One fixture on Saturday, 20 December, but the Wasps-Irish game was already scheduled to be played on the Sunday.
The Wednesday morning announcement of Wasps' controversial move to the Ricoh, which has upset both their own supporters and Sky Blues fans, ends several months of speculation.
"It's a shame it was unable to be communicated earlier," Wasps captain James Haskell told BBC Coventry & Warwickshire. "But, in business, you have disclosure agreements. The truth has come out today and it's all very exciting. The Ricoh is a world-class venue with amazing facilities.
"I have massive empathy for the fans. I am one myself. I have a double perspective on this, having been a fan from the age of 12 and a player from the age of 17," added the England forward.
|Wasps and Bees in the same city|
|Wasps' move to Coventry increases the number of sports clubs in the city - a month after the Sky Blues' return after a year-long exile at Northampton.|
|The city's successful speedway side, who are through to next week's Elite League play-off final, are Coventry Bees.|
|As well as the long-established Coventry RFC, once a powerhouse of English rugby union before the professional era, the city also has a semi-professional rugby league side, Coventry Bears, who will compete next season in Championship One. The two clubs share the 4,000-capacity Butts Park Arena. Coventry RFC left their old Coundon Road home in 2004|
"I've an intimate knowledge of what's been happening with London Wasps over the last 11 years in our hunt for a new ground, with a multitude of different owners who weren't able to do it as projects fell through.
"But, as is often the case, a lot of the fans have been shielded from the true reality, that we were an hour away from going bankrupt, that for every pound spent at Adams Park, we get 50 per cent of it."
"It's a little bit scary going into a new place, and it's sad to leave London, but there was no other choice," said Haskell, the only member of the current Wasps team involved in their first game at the Ricoh in 2007, in the Heineken Cup against Munster.
"You can't sustain a business on gates of 5,000. You can't lose £3m a year in any walk of life. This was about survival."
"We know the club has considered all options and concluded that it is the best route to secure Wasps' long-term future," said Premiership Rugby chief executive Mark McCafferty.
"It is a positive and significant move by a club determined to re-assert itself at the top of the domestic and European game."