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Page last updated at 11:13 GMT, Tuesday, 6 July 2010 12:13 UK

London Irish move must happen - Andy Martin

Andy Martin
Martin joined London Irish as chief executive in September 2009

London Irish chief executive Andy Martin has warned that the club must move away from its Sunbury base.

The Exiles are appealing after having their plans to move to a new £12m training complex at nearby Hazelwood rejected by Spelthorne Borough Council.

Martin told BBC Berkshire: "To keep the London Irish family together we cannot stay in our current location.

"We're pretty confident something will happen and to attract top players we need these sort of facilities."

He added: "We've been working long and hard to find a training facility that accommodates not just the professional club but also the amateurs and the kids altogether.

"The family of London Irish wants to stay together and that's why we're really focused and spending a lot of time on it.

"It's not really about the development of Sunbury itself as a building. The issue is the number of pitches. They get pretty heavy turnover and they're not in a fit state.

"The new site doubles the amount of space, gives us a 3G pitch and gives the elite sportsmen the facilities that they really need."

Despite having their planning application rejected, Martin is optimistic their appeal will be successful.

"I think we were unlucky in that the planning committee meeting that took place just before the election and we got caught up in a political exercise.

"Over the summer we've spent a lot of time on this and if we'd have been given the advice that we were shooting a dead story then we would stop but that's not the case.

"We've had top legal advisors involved and everyone's very confident that we've got a case to make.

"What we've done is taken all the reasons for refusal, we've looked at them and said either we're going to debate them, we're going to drop them or we're going to negotiate on them and we're heavily into that process as we speak.

"I think next key dates are going to be sort of fourth quarter of this year when we really start to ramp up the appeal process and we're hopeful that we'll get something back in the first quarter of next year."



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