FORMER England winger and Labour MP Derek Wyatt has called on the RFU to sell their crown jewels – Twickenham Stadium.
Wyatt, the Bedford try-machine who was capped once in 1976, believes such a controversial move is necessary because of the transport difficulties getting to and from English rugby’s HQ and the cash crisis affecting rugby.
“The way in which you can solve the crisis we’ve got at the moment is to sell Twickenham, if you can get a fair price, and lease it back. Then, while you’re waiting, build a new stadium in a transport-friendly location,” he said bluntly.
“For most of us it is a hassle getting to Twickenham at the best of times let alone on a Friday night like for the Argentina game in November.
“The rush hour out of London starts at 2.30 on Friday. You could get there by train, but you’d have to stand on the roof because the trains are packed on Friday and the tubes are packed. What day of the week were they when they signed that deal with television? It’s bonkers.
“Afterwards, it’s worse. At 10/10.30 in the evening in the pouring rain, how do 80,000 people get home? Does anyone ask that question at Twickenham? It seems to me they don’t.”
The Argentina game, the second match of the four-match Autumn series, is scheduled for November 14, and is the first evening kick-off at Twickenham since the ground hosted matches at Rugby World Cup 2015.
Wyatt adds: “Don’t be arrogant in thinking you can always fill Twickenham.
“We are going to have higher taxation to pay for the pandemic, and there is going to be less money in our pockets for the next five-to-ten years.
“I don’t think a family could afford to come, and even if they could, the facilities aren’t there.
“They told us they were going to fix the facilities for women at the 2015 World Cup, but what happened to that?
“They spent £15m on the stadium but where are the women’s toilets, the baby-changing facilities and the playground for children?
“The RFU have just become a money machine and it is running out of money. Maybe it’s time to take a bigger decision.”
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