(Thursday 13th December 2001)
Adams Park pitch - Back to the mud old days? The Wycombe Wanderers' Board of Directors are thought to be furious that proposals for London Wasps Rugby Club to use Adams Park were leaked to the press. The London Evening Standard published a story on Monday (10th December) claiming that Wasps would be forced out of their current arrangement to play at QPR's Loftus Road ground due to Fulham moving in. Premiership Fulham, Wycombe's opponents in the Third Round of the FA Cup, are looking for a temporary home while Craven Cottage is redeveloped. Fulham say no decision has been made on their part but The Standard claimed that the Wasps, who play in the Zurich Premiership, are poised to strike a deal with Wycombe set to last at least two years.
In a brief quote to BBC Online on Tuesday (11th December), Wanderers originally denied any knowledge of the proposals but within hours a statement from Wycombe Chairman Ivor Beeks had been released on the club's official website confirming that talks HAD taken place. However, Beeks insisted "Nothing has been agreed". Beeks said further discussions were planned with Wasps later in the week following a Wanderers Board Meeting.
London WaspsThe leaked story also prompted both Wasps and QPR into hasty 'official' responses. Nigel Melville, Director of Rugby at Wasps, said "whilst talks have taken place between Fulham and QPR regarding a ground share arrangement for next season, at this stage no deal has been signed. Any deal would have to be in the best interests of QPR and London Wasps."
QPRMeanwhile, Chief Executive of QPR, David Davies said "Clearly the leak that appeared in yesterday’s Evening Standard has not helped anyone and we must question the motives behind it." Davies went on to add "Talk of Wasps leaving Loftus Road is also premature and I am sorry that Wycombe have been involved in something which at this stage is not their concern. Suffice it to say we are all keeping our options open and if there is a way that we could have all three teams here next season we would look in to that as well."
The proposals have been met with a mixed response from Wycombe fans but the main concern is undoubtedly the effect to the wonderful playing surface that Adams Park now offers. Similar pitch sharing schemes at Reading, QPR and Watford have been made possible by extensive work to the pitch. Reading have shared a £350,000 bill with London Irish to lay a 'Desso' style pitch at the Madejski Stadium but that is invested in a seven year deal with the Rugby Club that also makes provision for joint development of other facilities at the stadium including social amenities.
The Wanderers Board are obviously keen to maximise revenue from Adams Park but the proposals are sure to be met with objections from local residents who would be unhappy that their weekends would suffer further disruption. The move to allow Wasps squatting rights at Adams Park could also mean Wanderers being forced to move fixtures and would restrict the use of Adams Park on non-match days. The Conference and Banquetting facilities are currently juggled around Wanderers home games and fans also make use of Adams Park for parking when travelling to away games on organised transport.
It's a delicate matter that has fired up the emotions of fans from all the Clubs concerned. Beeks, trying to calm fans, concluded in his statement "Discussions are at an early stage and in common with most clubs at our level, Wycombe Wanderers are looking at ways of increasing their income. We can assure our supporters that no decision will be taken until we are satisfied that the arrangement would be beneficial to the club in every respect"

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Evening Standard
10 Dec 2001
Original story by Leo Spall
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