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Page last updated at 11:16 GMT, Tuesday, 20 July 2010 12:16 UK

New stadium key to St Helens' future - Tony Colquitt

Knowsley Road
Knowsley Road has been the home of St Helens since 1890

St Helens chief executive Tony Colquitt says the club's new stadium will ensure the side has a successful future.

Saints hope to move into their new home in 2011 as Knowsley Road closes its doors after 120 years of service.

"It ensures the long-term survival or the long-term viability of us to attract and retain world-class players," he told BBC Radio Merseyside.

"The game needs a strong St Helens. We've had a strong St Helens and we'll keep a strong St Helens."

Colquitt added: "Straight away it will turn us from a loss-making organisation into a profit-making organisation.

"We lose anything from between £500,000 to £750,000 with the current stadium. I would hope within two years of being in there we'd be delivering profits.

"It not only allows us to invest in the 17 on the park, but alongside that we'll be announcing shortly plans for training facilities and a centre of excellence, which will be on a par with anything out there in the league.

"We'll sign world-class players, but equally we're committed to bringing through the youth and I think our track record dictates that."

The new stadium will not be completed until 2011, and Saints will play at Widnes' Stobart Stadium next season.

Saints chairman Eamonn McManus said: "It's a necessity, we cannot stay at Knowsley Road. It's the only way to finance the new stadium and more importantly we can't keep it open for another year.

"In terms of basic safety requirements and basic investment in facilities the cost of doing that is much more prohibitive than going to Widnes. In addition to that it's a part of the financing structure for the new stadium that Knowsley Road is sold.

"It's no sacrifice, if any. Widnes is two miles away and the Stobart Stadium is atmospheric and it's comfortable. We can make it a fortress for a year."

St Helens' new home will have a very similar capacity to Knowsley Road, and despite this, McManus says there will still be a noticeable difference in revenue streams.

"It's 18,500 which is only 1,000 more than we have at the moment, but that's all we require," McManus continued. "Our average crowd as of today is between 10,000 and 11,000, so what we want to see is the ground full on each occasion.

"We've very much gone for quality in terms of specification rather than quantity. So I would like to think this will be the highest quality and most atmospheric stadium in club rugby league and club rugby or either code."

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