Saracens have reportedly opened talks with Fulham Football Club about a move to London to share the Premier League side’s ground – having spent the last 11 years sharing grounds with Watford.
With 1995 World Cup-winning captain Francois Pienaar and team manager Morne du Plessis on the Saracens board – the club is looking to tap into a market that includes an estimated 750,000 expatriate South Africans living in and around South-West London
Last season’s Heineken Cup semifinalists thus believe a move to Craven Cottage would enable them to double average crowds to 15,000, considering Saracens’ growing South African fan base.
Apart from the South African influence on the board, Sarries have former Wallaby coach Eddie Jones at the helm – who acted as technical advisor to Jake White’s World Cup winning Springboks in 2007.
Saracens also have a number of high-profile South African players in their squad, namely Wikus van Heerden, Bradley Barritt, Neil de Kock and Cobus Visagie.
The likely timing of a move is for the start of the 2010-11 season however, as Sarries’ lease at Vicarage Road still has 18 months to run.
With London Irish playing in Reading and London Wasps having moved to High Wycombe, Saracens clearly hope to exploit the desire to watch top-flight rugby in the capital.
“Whether we like it or not, rugby will go the same way as soccer,” Nigel Wray, the man responsible for transforming Saracens into a venerable Premiership club, told The Telegraph.
“That means you will need substantial resources to play at the top table and if you are not at the top table, you are probably nowhere.”
Providing they gain approval from the South African Rugby Union, reports even suggest that plans are being drawn up by Saracens for deals to sign Springboks Schalk Burger and Bryan Habana on loan – which should certainly provide even more of a spectacle for local South African expats.Tweet