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Saracens step up stadium plans

Saracens will play on artificial turf next season if plans to refurbish and relocate to Barnet Copthall Stadium are approved.

The Aviva Premiership club are to begin discussions with the London Borough of Barnet about the viability of developing the ground into a multi-purpose sports venue.

The plans would see Barnet Copthall Stadium, home to Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers and other sports clubs, become a premier athletics venue and potential training centre for the 2012 Olympic Games.

The proposal would also enable Saracens to leave Vicarage Road after Watford Football Club issued a break clause in their ground share agreement.

Such a move would see Saracens return to their traditional home in north London and would be welcomed by supporters.

The installation of a state-of-the-art pitch forms a key element of the proposal, but club chairman Nigel Wray allayed concerns over playing rugby on an artificial surface.

"Artificial turf may well be the future of rugby," said Wray.

"It has been approved by the International Rugby Board and the Rugby Football Union, and all the latest evidence suggests it will enable a faster, safer and more entertaining game. 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. This is a unique opportunity to create a fabulous stadium and a home for Saracens, an ambitious club playing entertaining rugby."

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