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Page last updated at 10:34 GMT, Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Saracens set out Copthall Stadium plans

Barnet Copthall Stadium proposed plan
Under the plans Copthall Stadium would have demountable stands for rugby matches

Saracens have revealed they are in discussions with Barnet Borough Council about making Copthall Stadium in north London the club's new home.

The Premiership side hope to play home games on artificial turf at the athletics stadium from next season.

"There is a unique opportunity to create a fabulous stadium," said chairman Nigel Wray.

The news will come as a disappointment to Barnet FC officials, who also had plans to move to Copthall.

"It goes without saying we will consult widely and extensively with the local community and stakeholders to establish a proper dialogue and ensure we create an asset that meets all the requirements of local residents and sports clubs," Wray added.

"In the process, we will create a home for Saracens, an ambitious club playing entertaining rugby in a superb stadium, an institution of which the people of Barnet and all north London can feel proud for many years to come."

Sarries have been looking for a venue since Watford activated a break clause in their Vicarage Road groundshare contract.

The plans include turning Copthall into a London 2012 training facility, refurbishment of the site's main building, construction of a new stand and installation of demountable stands, taking the permanent seating capacity to 3,000 and 10,000 for rugby games.

It would also see up to 16 games played on an artificial pitch, the first of its kind in English rugby.

North North Watford

"Artificial turf may well be the future of rugby. It has been approved by the IRB and the RFU, and all the latest evidence suggests it will enable a faster, safer and more entertaining game," Wray explained.

"Artificial turf technology has improved out of all recognition and concerns about burns and injuries are very much in the past.

"The use of artificial turf in the revived Barnet Copthall Stadium will not affect athletics and will also enable the community to use the venue on around 350 days per year."

Copthall is currently home to Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers Athletics Club and will continue to host athletics events under the proposals.

Harriers treasurer Geoff Morphitis added: "This is a tremendous opportunity in these difficult financial times to refurbish a stand that is nearly 50 years old and to bring in new facilities.

"This would ensure the venue can continue to host top class athletics meetings and serve as a valuable sports facility for the local community."

Meanwhile Watford have confirmed Saracens will not be playing at Vicarage Road next season.

Hornets chairman Graham Taylor said: "With Saracens now seriously pursuing another option, we feel the time is now right to provide some definition and clarity, particularly to our fans.

"Now we want to push forward with the plans we have been starting to formulate that explore revenue streams open to us once Saracens are no longer here.

"The development of Vicarage Road into a stadium of which we can all be proud remains our key focus."

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