I admit I'm disappointed by the news that Saracens have confirmed they plan to leave Watford's Vicarage Road and move into the Barnet Copthall Stadium by the beginning of next season.
It is, I confess, a somewhat selfish reaction on my part and I've no genuine right to be disappointed, having only been to watch Sarries a handful of times since they began playing at Vicarage Road in the 1997-1998 season.
Nevertheless, the decision seems to indicate a shift in emphasis. One thing Sarries have been brilliant at is building community links with schools and rugby clubs in the Herts/Bucks area. My own club, for instance is a "Tier 1" partner club which provides various benefits including visits from Saracens players, training for our kids by Saracens academy and community coaches, the involvement of our mini rugby players on match days at Vicarage Road and discounted tickets for Saracens home games with the club able to make money on tickets sold through the club. Although this type of relationship is common now among professional rugby clubs it was Saracens who were the pioneers soon after professionalism took hold in the 90s and it strikes me that a move away from the area puts much of this work in jeopardy.
Saracens say that they plan to spend up to £10m on the Barnet Copthall Stadium and, and if plans are approved, plan to install a state-of-the-art artificial pitch.
The merits of such a pitch will no doubt be debated elsewhere. My only comment is that the pitch will no doubt suit their equally artificial new fly half.