It is expected an announcement will be made confirming Saracens will be playing at Vicarage Road for the first few months of the 2011/12 season, at least, due to delays in their proposed move to Barnet Copthall Stadium in Mill Hill.
The Watford Observer also understands the Hornets could confirm they will not be relaying the out-of-date pitch at the stadium, although there were serious doubts over whether the work would have taken place regardless.
The rugby club have been based at Vicarage Road since 1997 but decided to leave last summer, with Watford insisting Sarries increase the amount they pay the Hornets, which for most of the deal had been £489,000 a season, and due to the Men in Black’s desire to improve their disappointing attendances.
Watford had initially set a deadline of September for Saracens to confirm whether they would be staying at Vicarage Road but the rugby club but did not state they would be leaving the ground until November, when they presented plans for their proposed move to Barnet Copthall.
The Hornets announced they had formally activated the break clause in the two clubs’ agreement hours after Saracens’ press conference in November and stated the rugby club “will leave after June 2011”.
Saracens always faced a race against time to be ready for the beginning of the rugby season in September but at the time, refused to discuss what they planned to do should the proposals be delayed.
The rugby club stated in April they were in negotiations with six potential venues for the start of the season, which it is understood included Northampton Saints and MK Dons.
At the same time, Saracens chief executive Edward Griffiths said he anticipated Barnet Copthall would be ready in time for January but there is a chance the Men in Black will need to stay for longer and we understand Watford could facilitate this.
Sarries plan to spend up to £10m on Barnet Copthall, which will be a 10,000-seater venue when Saracens play during the season and will have detachable stands which will be removed for large parts of the year. See below.
Barnet Copthall Stadium during rugby season
Barnet Copthall Stadium when Saracens are not using the ground
Saracens submitted more than 7,000 letters of support to Barnet Council yesterday morning.
A statement on Saracens’ website read: “The letters have been signed by local residents, businesses and sports clubs along with other supporters of the scheme which include Sport England, UK Athletics and the Rugby Football Union.
Saracens are planning to stage no more than 16 days of Premiership rugby at Copthall, and the club has developed a comprehensive match day traffic and parking plan, incorporating satellite car parks and 200 match day stewards, to avoid disruption for residents.