(Friday 10th May 2002)
No turning back now on the pitch Wycombe District Council look set to fast track Wanderers' planning application for rugby at Adams Park after agreeing to bring forward the planning meeting scheduled for Wednesday 29th May. Wasps put the pressure on Wycombe when it was revealed that they were in serious discussions with Oxford United regarding a move to the Kassam Stadium and the heat was turned up further when the RFU prompted Wasps for a decision by Tuesday 21st May.
WDC have now agreed to meet on Monday 20th May to discuss the planning application and Wanderers officials will now be sweating on the outcome after work began this week on the 500,000 project to install undersoil heating and a hard wearing 'desso' pitch at Adams Park. No contract has yet been signed between the two clubs and Wasps now look to have the upper hand in negotiations. Wasps owner Chris Wright says the decision to move the meeting will help the situation but he says he been impressed with Oxford's stadium. He told the Bucks Free Press "We have got some tough decisions ahead. Wycombe is closer to our roots than Oxford and that is a big thinking point." He went on to add "How we have to decide what is best for us and our supporters".
The situation looks to have left Wanderers' Chairman Ivor Beeks fuming. He was quoted in the Bucks Free Press on 3rd May as saying "I can understand where Wasps are coming from and from our point of view it's getting very nailbiting. I would just ask Wasps to hold fire for three weeks. Oxford have hijacked our deal and are putting the screws on Wasps saying they have other people waiting to move in." However, this has since been denied by Wasps' director Charles Levison. He told the Oxford Mail "It was simply a matter of Oxford knowing that we were looking for a ground, and us knowing that The Kassam Stadium is a very acceptable alternative." But it would appear that Wasps still see Adams Park as their first choice of home for next season, with Levison adding "One of the advantages of Wycombe is that there is a good supporter base in the area. If we come to Oxford, that is something we would obviously have to build up."
Since those quotes, the RFU deadline has put another spanner in the works and WDC will now discuss the matter on 20th May, less than 24 hours before the RFU have insisted on a final answer from Wasps. Some observers feel that the meeting will just a 'rubber stamping' exercise by the Council despite the obvious opposition from some local bodies. Our sources reveal that objections have been made The High Wycombe Society, The Chiltern Society and The Sands Resident's Association, all of which point to an 'intensification' of use and the additional problems of access to and from the ground. Several letters of objections have also been received, leaving the decision still very much up in the air and making the gamble of laying the new pitch a risk too far for many.
Beeks will also not have helped Wycombe's cause by denying that the Council had advised Wycombe to put in a full planning application as early as last January. The Wycombe Chairman was quoted in the BFP as saying "We were never told to put in a planning application. With everything that's at stake do you honestly believe we would have ignored their advice?"

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