Wasps secure temporary home

Featured image credit: Wasps

Fallen English rugby union club Wasps has announced it has secured a temporary stadium location in the Greater London/Kent area as it seeks to progress plans for a permanent new home, and a return to play.

Wasps has provided an update on its situation after the club in October detailed plans to move to a new stadium in the county of Kent as part of reformation efforts.

Wasps was placed into administration on October 17, 2022, with its parent company Wasps Holdings Limited ceasing trading and the club being ejected from the top-tier Premiership. A total of 167 employees were made redundant, including playing squads and coaching staff at the rugby club and the Wasps netball team. Wasps’ debts at the time of the club’s administration reportedly totalled £95m (€111m/$120.6m).

The club is yet to return to play and in October outlined the three pillars that defined the club’s intent and “direction of travel”. These focused on securing a competition to compete in, developing a sustainable financial plan and gaining a stadium in which to play.

Wasps said in a statement yesterday (Monday): “We have made substantial progress in the establishment of a suitable ground in which to play as we progress the planning for our new stadium.

“We can now inform you that we have secured the core sustainable finance and a temporary stadium location in the Greater London/Kent area, aligning with our strategic plans to eventually relocate to Kent. All we are waiting for is a competition to join that will allow us to compete at the highest level – and one that shares our values.”

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) in December touted the prospect of a ‘Premiership 2’ league in which the likes of Wasps, and other stricken clubs such as Worcester Warriors and London Irish, could compete if they organise their financial affairs. Wasps have also been linked with a potential move into the United Rugby Championship (URC), which groups together clubs from Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Italy and South Africa.

The club in October said it was “actively engaged” with Sevenoaks District Council to identify a suitable location for a new stadium and ensure that the development meets both the needs of the club and the broader community. As the development progresses through its planning stages, Wasps said it would be actively exploring temporary facilities to underpin its operations in Kent.

Sevenoaks Council said Wasps had put forward an early proposal for a new multi-use stadium, with a capacity of between 24,000 and 28,000 seats, along with a training ground and hotel as part of its Local Plan ‘Call for sites’. The location of the proposed stadium, training ground and hotel is on the outskirts of the town of Swanley.

The club relocated from its traditional home in London to Wycombe, north of the UK capital, in 2002, before moving to Coventry in 2014. Frasers Group, a British retail company owned by Mike Ashley, secured ownership of Coventry Building Society Arena, home of Championship football club Coventry City and former home of Wasps, in November 2022.

As it continues its reformation efforts, Wasps has called on fans to sign up to its new database in order to become a “foundational part of our return”.