New twist in Saracens stadium bid as UK Athletics show support

Rugby club’s development of Barnet Copthall Stadium backed by athletics chief

A senior figure at UK Athletics believes that Barnet Copthall Stadium would provide a key facility for British athletics if Saracens’ plans to build an �18million multi-purpose sports venue are approved.

Saracens are currently awaiting the results of an amended request for planning permission to establish a 10,000 seater stadium and artificial pitch at Copthall.

A key element of the submission is that Copthall, the home of Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers and other teams, will be available to the wider athletic community for 340 days of the year.

And this week Niels de Vos, the chief executive of UK Athletics, the governing body of athletics in the UK, has backed Saracens’ plans in a letter of support to Barnet Council.

“We give full support for the Saracens proposals to modify and refurbish Barnet Copthall Stadium,” said de Vos.

“Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers is one of the most influential athletics clubs in the UK and Barnet Copthall Stadium is an important athletic facility both nationally and locally.

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“The club is a key provider of athletics on a local, regional and national scale.

“As outlined this project should bring significant benefits to local athletics and to the wider athletic community. The establishment of an athletics facility which allows, for the first time in Barnet, training and competition to take place all the year round will help to develop the sport at all levels.

“These developments would also make Copthall a key facility for England in the delivery of their coach development and coach education plans for London.”

Meanwhile the heads of several nearby schools have expressed their support for the new facility that they believe will significantly benefit younger athletes in the area.

“Copthall is a very tired facility in desperate need of renovation and waiting for someone to help realise its potential,” said Martin Lavelle, the head teacher of nearby Whitefield School.

“What Saracens propose [to create] is not just a rugby facility, but a multi-sport complex from cricket to athletics to rugby and martial arts.

“There is also a huge demand among students for cheerleading and dance clubs and this is another area Saracens excel in.

“The wider community stands to benefit significantly from what is proposed.”