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Wasps statements: Training ground ownership change, Arena update

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)

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Troubled Gallagher Premiership club Wasps have issued separate statements clarifying why club owner Derek Richardson has given up his 50 per cent share in their new training ground and confirming their investment of an unspecified six-figure to remedy the damaged pitch at the Coventry Building Society Arena. A story published on bbc.com on Thursday has revealed that documents filed with Companies House on May 13 show that Richardson offloaded his stake in the Henley-in-Arden training ground that was opened last season and the facility is now solely controlled by Christopher Holland, another Wasps director.

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There has also been a change in the name of the company that owns the training ground, Elite Performance and Innovation Centre (EPIC) replacing Wasps New Training Ground (WNTG) which the facility was called when opened in September 2021.

A statement from Wasps to the BBC read: “The training ground was developed in a 50:50 partnership and now that the complex is completed, one of those partners, who is a director of Wasps, has taken sole ownership under a new company name designed to build on the EPIC brand. The training ground ownership matter is purely a commercial transaction.”

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The change in training ground ownership is the latest twist in the summer of intrigue at Wasps. The club failed to repay its £35million debt to bondholders as planned and it also emerged this week that its charity foundation had shut down. There has also been a damaging argument with tenant club Coventry City FC, who have yet to play a home match in their new 2022/23 Championship season at the ground.

The hosting of the recent Commonwealth Games Rugby 7s left the pitch unplayable but the matter will now finally be resolved, according to another statement issued by Wasps on their website. “Coventry City Football Club and Wasps Group are very pleased to confirm that extensive work is taking place this week on the pitch at Coventry Building Society Arena,” it read.

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“A six-figure investment is being made into pitch improvements that will make the pitch safe and playable. Saturday’s game against Huddersfield Town will be postponed to allow for this work to take place successfully. Coventry City had sought to reverse the fixture against Huddersfield this Saturday, but Huddersfield, unfortunately, could not accommodate this request due to the timescales involved. The Sky Blues’ first game back at the Arena will be on Wednesday, August 31, against Preston North End.

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“There will be new synthetic fibres stitched into the ground throughout the pitch. These new fibres will give increased stability to the existing structure and then allow for better growth now and in the future. Also, areas which have been more widely damaged will be subject to extensive and increased maintenance work so they can be fully integrated with the existing pitch.”

So frustrated have Coventry football fans become with Wasps that a newly formed action group is planning a protest at the rugby club’s first home match of the new Premiership session, the September 17 fixture versus Bristol Bears.

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