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Saracens bid could end Barnet FC stadium plans

align=justify>Barnet Football Club’s hopes of moving to a new ground are in danger with reports that rugby club Saracens has also submitted a redevelopment proposal for the Copthall Stadium to Barnet Council.

The multi-million pound scheme by Saracens to develop Copthall Stadium for rugby use could put an end to Barnet FC’s 100 years-plus history in the borough. 

The report in The Times newspaper quotes council leader Lynne Hillan as saying: "Copthall Stadium has long needed investment and it would be foolish of us not to discuss any proposal that would develop a much-loved facility and support and enhance community use."

In 2001 a Barnet proposal to build a 10,000-seater stadium at Copthall was rejected by former Labour deputy leader John Prescott after fierce opposition from some residents in Mill Hill.

Barnet chairman Tony Kleanthous said that he was "extremely disappointed but not surprised to hear of the rugby clubs plans."

Responding to a press inquiry he announced: "If the council are supporting and looking favourably on the Saracens proposal it sends out a straightforward and clear message to our football club that they would prefer having them in the borough rather than us. This is quite a blow but nothing at Barnet Council really surprises any more.

"I have to express my disappointment after our investment of hundreds of thousands of pounds on trying to locate to Copthall over the years. The last Copthall inquiry revealed that with some reduction in the footprint and improved transport links we can build a Football League standard stadium on the 150-acre site, which already boasts an athletic stadium.

"However, the council has refused to make the site available to us and it’s sad that they are now looking to invite others into the borough whilst escorting us out via the back door."

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