English Championship rugby union club Doncaster Knights is seeking to nearly double its stadium capacity in order to ensure it is suitable for the top-tier Premiership.
The Knights have entered a planning application for Castle Park with Doncaster Council. The plans call for new East and South stands taking the stadium capacity from 5,139 up to 10,015, with additional ancillary supporting facilities, according to the Doncaster Free Press newspaper.
The Knights’ move comes after the Rugby Football Union (RFU) and Premiership Rugby Limited (PRL) in March ruled that it and Ealing Trailfinders, which finished second and first in last season’s Championship, respectively, had not met the minimum standards criteria for promotion to the Premiership.
The COVID-19 recovery measures agreed by the RFU Council in June last year allowed for the Premiership to be expanded to 14 clubs at the end of the 2021-22 season, enabling the winner of the Championship to be promoted subject to meeting the required minimum standards criteria.
These criteria are in place to ensure Premiership clubs and promoted teams have suitable facilities to protect player safety and welfare and to provide a good quality, safe environment for spectators. Each club and its nominated ground undergo an annual independent audit to assess compliance with the minimum standards criteria.
This year two Championship clubs – the Knights and Trailfinders – nominated their home grounds to be eligible for promotion and to be independently audited under the minimum standards criteria.
One of the minimum standards criteria is that a stadium must hold a minimum of 10,001 fans. The RFU and PRL said this is to ensure the ground falls under the remit of the Sports Grounds Safety Authority (SGSA) and the Green Guide, as well as to be of a standard suitable for the top league of one of the nation’s major sports.
Commenting on the new plans, a Doncaster Knights spokesman said: “To summarise, the proposal is appropriate in this location and would enhance an existing sporting facility both in terms of the quality of experience offered to its users and the overall visual appearance of the ground.
“The impact on the appearance and openness of the surroundings should be acceptable due to the woodland screening around the site and use of appropriately coloured materials. The level of additional traffic generated would not result in problems on the highway network and the level of parking and parking provision elsewhere is adequate to serve the site.”
Image: Doncaster Knights