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Fans will come to Ricoh - Eastwood


Nick Eastwood is confident Wasps fans will flock to Coventry

Nick Eastwood is confident Wasps fans will flock to Coventry

Nick Eastwood is confident Wasps fans will flock to Coventry

Chief executive Nick Eastwood has defended Wasps' move to Coventry by claiming "the majority of supporters" will attend matches at the Ricoh Arena.

Wasps' scrum superiority proved the bedrock of a fine 29-22 Aviva Premiership victory over Bath on Sunday, in front of a season-best crowd at Adams Park.

Nearly 3,000 supporters have signed an online petition aimed at keeping Wasps in west London, but the club will move to Coventry's Ricoh Arena in December.

Eastwood admitted relief that fans did not vent latent anger with protests during Wasps' hard-fought Bath victory, then backed the club's followers to appreciate the "move or die" ground switch.

"I think the majority of supporters will come," Eastwood said.

"A number of supporters at the fans' forum said they just can't do it because of work commitments.

"But most people have said they are coming.

"I think 80 per cent of our season ticket-holders live within a 30-minute drive, so anyone who lives west and north, it's going to be an easier journey in and out of Adams Park.

"I'm hugely appreciative the fans got round the team and separated the decision from the playing side of things.

"The only constant in the last 20 years of Wasps' history was a lack of financial stability, and we've ended that now.

"We looked at probably 15 sites in and around London in the last two years.

"We were left with two options: stay where we are, lose a shedload of money and say a prayer that a miracle's going to happen, or move.

"Staying put would have been a one-way ticket to going bust.

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"Once we made that decision, Ricoh was by far and away the best option.

"It just came down to move or die."

Andy Goode geared up for Wasps' move to his home city by landing 16 points with the boot, while Sailosi Tagicakibau's score, a penalty try and Elliot Daly's long-range penalty secured victory.

Micky Young, Leroy Houston and David Young were sin-binned in an indisciplined performance that consigned Bath to their second league defeat of the campaign.

Jonathan Joseph, Young and David Sisi hit back with late tries, with George Ford slotting a penalty to secure a losing bonus point.

The Wasps chief executive admitted sympathy with frustrated supporters upset after the club bought a controlling stake in Arena Coventry Limited (ACL), the company that runs the Ricoh, from Coventry City Council.

Eastwood said owner Derek Richardson's millions would have only lasted four more years renting in Wycombe.

"Derek's already spent £10million, another £4million a year, another four years, £20million," Eastwood said.

"At that point in time you're entirely dependent on whether someone else will step into their shoes.

"We'd love to pick the Ricoh up and plonk it in west London, but you can't.

"Someone said to me even (Chelsea owner Roman) Abramovich hasn't been able to do it with his wealth.

"It's just impossible. The scarcity of land and planning issues means it just won't happen."

Wasps rugby director Dai Young allayed fears over Joe Launchbury after the England lock was involved in a minor car accident en route to the game.

The former Wales prop also praised supporters for appreciating the club's predicament in moving to Coventry.

"I wasn't surprised by the lack of protests, to be quite honest," he said.

"One thing that has jumped out at me is how intelligent our supporters are.

"Nobody can doubt their loyalty and passion, but I understood frustrations in the early part of the week.

"I thought the supporters were intelligent enough to react in the right way once everything was explained and outlined fully.

"Joe was involved in a car accident on the way to the game - him and his girlfriend. They were shaken up, went to hospital just for a check-up and both are fine."

Bath head coach Mike Ford bemoaned his side's uncharacteristic scrummaging performance, finding solace at least in their recovery from 29-0 down.

"It is disappointing, but it's not all doom," he said. "You can't be that far off the pace in the set-piece in this competition.

"We're fourth after six games, after playing some decent opposition.

"If we can put it all together, we're going to be there or thereabouts.

"It was 29-0 at one stage, so we are pleased with the character and the response of the team."

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