Wasps 'have abused' supporters with Coventry move

By Chris OsborneBBC Sport
Wasps supporters
Wasps are currently ninth in the Premiership, having won two of their five matches so far

A Wasps supporter who has initiated a petition against the club's move from High Wycombe to Coventry has said fans have been let down.

Wasps, who will start playing games at the Ricoh Arena from December, say they understand it is a sensitive time and have attempted to address supporters' concerns on their website.external-link

Alexander Hayton has supported Wasps since 1998, when he was 10 years old.

"It feels very much that as a fanbase we've been abused," he told BBC Sport.

The move to Coventry: Wasps in their own words
1. Stay as we are, losing £3m a year. Outcome - high risk of going bust
2. Stay where we are but cut the squad budget in half to survive financially. Outcome - high risk of being relegated
3. Find land in south east to develop - suitable sites are not available and there is a very high degree of risk associated with planning consent falling through. The London property market is difficult
4. Buy an existing stadium in London - they are rarely, if ever, available
5. Buy our own stadium which includes a thriving business and guarantees the club's long-term future with one of the best playing squads in Europe.

"There's a loyalty the fans have shown the club the last few seasons. As far as I'm concerned loyalty swings both ways.

"I will never support another club. Once a Wasp, always a Wasp. But my time of regularly attending home games is over unfortunately."

The Premiership club have traditionally been located in the north west London area during its 147-year history, predominantly in Sudbury, and have spent the past 12 years paying rent to play at Wycombe Wanderers' Adams Park ground.

Owner Derek Richardson saved Wasps from going into administration two years ago, but the club have continued to lose £3m a year.

Opposition view: Northampton Saints chairman Allan Robson told BBC Radio Northampton
"For them to leave their fans behind is a very big call. It indicates the discontent Wasps must have had in Wycombe.
"I'm not worried about it affecting our attendances. We have a very good business model and tremendously loyal fans.
"I'm not sure it will ever be a derby. Leicester Tigers will always be a lot more meaningful for Northampton."

Wasps completed a deal to buy a 50% share in the Ricoh Arena on Tuesday and say the move "gives the club the best opportunity to thrive as a business, which will support further investment in the squad".

"It's sad to leave London but there was no other choice. You can't sustain a business on gates of 5,000," said Wasps captain James Haskell.

Hayton has amassed more than 2,000 signatures on his e-petition opposing the move.external-link

"It's sad the club has shown us no loyalty whatsoever," he said.

Opposition view: Worcester Warriors statement
"Worcester Warriors can confirm that the club is seeking clarification on a number of fronts from Premiership Rugby Limited and the Rugby Football Union.
"Most importantly, these concern how Wasps' fan engagement and community programmes will sit alongside the significant investment we have made in our current academy programmes in the area without conflict."

"One of the great things about Adams Park is the number of kids you get there. If they're playing rugby with their school in the morning, can they get up to Coventry in time for a game?

"I think Wasps as we know it are dead. You can't look at a club that has been in a location for 150 years and say the location has nothing to do with its identity.

"Wasps have assumed a model of seeing sports clubs as franchises rather than part of the local community. That's broken what made Wasps a great club."