Kassam Stadium boss Doyle not fazed by groundshare

Herald Series: The Kassam Stadium pictured before London Welsh's Championship final against Cornish Pirates in May The Kassam Stadium pictured before London Welsh's Championship final against Cornish Pirates in May

Kassam Stadium general manager Michael Doyle is confident the new groundshare between Oxford United and London Welsh will work well.

Welsh will make their Premiership debut at Oxford’s Kassam Stadium on Sunday, September 2 when they host Leicester Tigers.

The first weekend both United and the Exiles will definitely both play at home is from January 4 to 6, although cup fixtures remain to be confirmed.

United fans have voiced concerns about the Kassam Stadium pitch cutting up under the greater use, but Doyle stressed the groundshare was nothing to be feared.

“We’re not reinventing the wheel here,” he said.

“It works not only in this country, but all over Europe and it’s quite common for two separate sports to play at one stadium. “We have already had meetings at Reading and Wycombe to talk about the pitfalls.

“The uniqueness in this situation is neither of the clubs own the ground.”

Bristol Rovers are another club who host both sports. They employ four groundstaff to work on the pitch straight after a Saturday football fixture and prepare it for rugby.

They use another two or three on the Sunday morning. They employ two full-time and one part-time groundstaff during the week.

There is no full-time groundsman at the Kassam Stadium and work is currently carried out by personnel from Oxford University, but that situation is likely to be reviewed.

Ian Holtby, the Memorial Stadium manager in Bristol, said: “No stadium can survive on one game a fortnight. You have to maximise the income, so having two games a weekend can be very good.

“We would never allow a rugby game to be played on a Friday if the football club were at home on the Saturday.”

“A groundshare is certainly do-able. We have been doing it very well for 14 years.

“People have no idea how much is involved. When we have a double header, as soon as the football is finished on a Saturday we get to work.

“It’s not just the groundstaff changing the pitch, advertising boards all need to be swapped, there are cleaners to get the ground ready and the catering staff prepare for the following day.

“One point is different rules on alcohol between the two sports – beer is allowed on terraces for rugby.

“It’s like anything, it takes that bit of time. Once you know what you’re doing, it goes like clockwork.”

London Wasps moved in with Wycombe Wanderers in 2002 following a groundshare with QPR at Loftus Road.

A Wycombe spokesman said: “Our experience of the groundshare has been very positive.

“It will be different to the situation in Oxford, because London Welsh will be dealing with a body who controls the ownership of the stadium.

“As long as London Welsh have a very strong agreement, there won’t be any problems. They will take second preference in terms of fixtures. Like Wasps, they will probably be playing a lot of home games on Sundays.

“People forget there aren’t as many fixtures in rugby. Wasps only have about two home games a month. We haven’t had any issues, we have very good groundstaff.

“It’s really only when the weather is very wet that we have trouble.

“Obviously there’s some impact from the rugby on the turf. We tend not to use it for anything other than games – both clubs train elsewhere.

“It is a DESSO pitch (part synthetic, similar to the Kassam Stadium). Obviously, towards the end of the season there’s a bit of wear and tear, but it’s still better compared to other grounds who have only one club playing on it.”

At Reading, all the groundstaff work on a full-time basis.

They are used to hosting rugby at the Madejski Stadium, having had a rugby club there practically since the Stadium opened in 1998, Richmond playing there before London Irish.

They say the different rules on alcohol and fans’ segregation do not pose problems as all areas are easily changed.

Comments (9)

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11:44am Tue 10 Jul 12

magicrugmaker says...

Unlike other grounds we get NOTHING out of this!!! Ka$$am. You ....................
......!
Unlike other grounds we get NOTHING out of this!!! Ka$$am. You .................... ......! magicrugmaker
  • Score: -1

12:15pm Tue 10 Jul 12

Joe1 says...

It will ruin the pitch!!!
I recall when during a stadium tour being asked not to even stand on the pitch. What will rugby do to it?
It will ruin the pitch!!! I recall when during a stadium tour being asked not to even stand on the pitch. What will rugby do to it? Joe1
  • Score: 0

2:18pm Tue 10 Jul 12

ourfcnr1fan says...

It is not so much about what rugby will do to the pitch, it is more about what it will do to the stands ............... fill them! Go along and watch international stars.
It is not so much about what rugby will do to the pitch, it is more about what it will do to the stands ............... fill them! Go along and watch international stars. ourfcnr1fan
  • Score: 1

4:22pm Tue 10 Jul 12

YellowArmy41 says...

ourfcnr1fan wrote:
It is not so much about what rugby will do to the pitch, it is more about what it will do to the stands ............... fill them! Go along and watch international stars.
I agree entirely I think it can only be a positive thing for the club, and I hope the partnership between Oxford and London Welsh continues to grow. I personally am looking forward to seeing what the different atmospheres are like for both sports. It will bring in more fans to the ground and that can only be a positive thing for the club. As for the pitch I do not think this will be an issue, it is not common for ground shares and provided they are properly looked after, I think this will not be an issue.
[quote][p][bold]ourfcnr1fan[/bold] wrote: It is not so much about what rugby will do to the pitch, it is more about what it will do to the stands ............... fill them! Go along and watch international stars.[/p][/quote]I agree entirely I think it can only be a positive thing for the club, and I hope the partnership between Oxford and London Welsh continues to grow. I personally am looking forward to seeing what the different atmospheres are like for both sports. It will bring in more fans to the ground and that can only be a positive thing for the club. As for the pitch I do not think this will be an issue, it is not common for ground shares and provided they are properly looked after, I think this will not be an issue. YellowArmy41
  • Score: 2

5:55pm Tue 10 Jul 12

karatavuk says...

There is no partnership between Oxford and London Welsh.
This just about Kassam making more money for himself while putting up fees for OUFC.
There is no partnership between Oxford and London Welsh. This just about Kassam making more money for himself while putting up fees for OUFC. karatavuk
  • Score: 1

6:05pm Tue 10 Jul 12

marathon2012 says...

Lets stop Kassam making his money and ripping both the Us and LW off and both the u's and London Welsh team up and buy the ground.
Lets stop Kassam making his money and ripping both the Us and LW off and both the u's and London Welsh team up and buy the ground. marathon2012
  • Score: 1

11:21am Wed 11 Jul 12

Bodkin says...

hhsfhfhtrh
hhsfhfhtrh Bodkin
  • Score: 1

11:26am Wed 11 Jul 12

Bodkin says...

Bodkin wrote:
hhsfhfhtrh
Sorry about that, what I meant was:

The Kassam pitch is not the same type of pitch as ANY league ground which shares with Rugby. The vast majority of these are Desso pitches (Reading, Wycombe, Swansea, etc) and the Kassam pitch also has known flooding/water logging issues. Even with full time staffing and attention even a moderately wet season will affect the football playing surface negatively. This doesn’t mean the ground share is a bad thing, but particularly OUFC supporters must be aware that the pitch will suffer and could be a mess by Feb.
[quote][p][bold]Bodkin[/bold] wrote: hhsfhfhtrh[/p][/quote]Sorry about that, what I meant was: The Kassam pitch is not the same type of pitch as ANY league ground which shares with Rugby. The vast majority of these are Desso pitches (Reading, Wycombe, Swansea, etc) and the Kassam pitch also has known flooding/water logging issues. Even with full time staffing and attention even a moderately wet season will affect the football playing surface negatively. This doesn’t mean the ground share is a bad thing, but particularly OUFC supporters must be aware that the pitch will suffer and could be a mess by Feb. Bodkin
  • Score: 1

8:39pm Thu 12 Jul 12

BenkiuGuasu says...

Err....so London Welsh are not contributing towards Oxford Utd's rent on the stadium?
Err....so London Welsh are not contributing towards Oxford Utd's rent on the stadium? BenkiuGuasu
  • Score: 0

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