Saracens cheered by councillors
Saracens have moved a step closer to becoming the first club to play on an artificial pitch after councillors approved their plans to develop the Barnet Copthall Stadium.
The Aviva Premiership champions want a 10,000-capacity stadium that would host 16 home games a season, with the matches to be played on a synthetic surface. For the rest of the year, the facility would be available for local schools and act as a permanent base for the Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers athletics club.
"After 18 months of engaging extensively with local residents, we are delighted that Barnet councillors have approved our proposals to revive Barnet Copthall Stadium and create a vibrant sports hub for the local community," said Saracens chairman Nigel Wray.
"The new stadium will provide both a real home for Saracens and a hugely improved venue for athletics in the south east.
"It will secure the future of the highly successful Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers and offer great facilities free of charge to local schools.
"Our plans include the installation of an artificial turf pitch, which may well be the future of rugby. It could enable a faster, safer and more entertaining game and will certainly enable the local community to use the pitch for 349 days per year.
"Copthall will, we promise, be a genuine community stadium. We will continue to work closely with the local community and make Copthall an asset that we can all be proud of."
Saracens currently play most of their home games at Vicarage Road although some big fixtures are staged at Wembley Stadium.