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Haskell defends Coventry move

Wasps captain James Haskell has insisted the English Premiership side had little choice but to move to Coventry if they were to safeguard their long-term future.

Founded in London in 1867, four years before the establishment of England's governing Rugby Football Union, the past few seasons have seen Wasps playing home matches at the Adams Park ground of Wycombe Wanderers Football Club , north of London, although their training ground and administrative headquarters have remained in the capital.

But now Wasps are set to play their home matches some 70 miles north of Wycombe at Coventry's Ricoh Arena.

The Midlands city is already home to Coventry Rugby Club, a major force in the English game in the 1970s but now a third-tier side.

Wasps' move has dismayed many of their own fans, but Haskell insisted the club had few options.

"It's always dangerous to try and project what other people feel, but it's obviously a massive change and people are very sceptical of change, it's human nature," Haskell said.

"But look at the situation we were in – we were an hour away from going bankrupt. We were losing £3-million per year for a long period of time.

"[Owner] Derek Richardson came in and absorbed £10-million [US$16-million, €13-million] worth of debt.

"Our deal at Adams Park meant that for every £1 spent we got 50p. There was no other option than to move.

"I've been a Wasps fan since the age of 12 and am their longest serving player.

"I have intimate knowledge of where this club has been and how close we were to disappearing.

"Players should be solely focused on the rugby and on performance, but at Wasps at times it's been 'are we getting paid and where are we living?'. As of now that's changed."

England back row forward Haskell added: "It's difficult to explain that business side of it to a young fan because of the emotion involved, but Coventry isn't a million miles away.

"This stadium, facility and the matchday experience – the whole set up will only make the club better.

"Fans have been shielded from how much of a struggle it has been at times, but this move has now secured the future of Wasps."

Two-time European champions Wasps will play their first game in Coventry against either French club Castres or London Irish in December, the club have announced.

Source: AFP

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