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Whither Wasps?

By BrianC
July 6 2005

Wasps, Zurich and Heineken Cup champions, have had a very good season off field. Average gates have jumped 17.2% to 9063. This very success however is now causing them a problem. As with many other clubs their ground is now too small. In the 04/05 season they recorded five capacity crowds of 10k. Whither Wasps

Wasps - 2004/5 Season

07-May-05 ZC Wasps vs. Sale Sharks 43-22 Causeway Stadium 5824
17-Apr-05 ZP Wasps vs. Worcester 32-17 Causeway Stadium 8941
10-Apr-05 ZP Wasps vs. Saracens 45-24 Causeway Stadium 10000
13-Mar-05 ZP Wasps vs. Leeds Tykes 30-15 Causeway Stadium 7545
20-Feb-04 ZP Wasps vs. Northampton 39-9 Causeway Stadium 9507
29-Jan-05 ZP Wasps vs. Bath 9-12 Causeway Stadium 10000
27-Dec-04 ZP Wasps vs. Gloucester 33-20 Causeway Stadium 10000
21-Nov-04 ZP Wasps vs. Leicester 17-17 Causeway Stadium 10000
05-Nov-04 ZP Wasps vs. Harlequins 19-16 Causeway Stadium 8283
10-oct-04 ZP Wasps vs. Newcastle 43-29 Causeway Stadium 10000
26-Sep-04 ZP Wasps vs. London Irish 35-26 Causeway Stadium 7957
11-Sep-04 ZP Wasps vs. Sale Sharks 30-33 Causeway Stadium 7011
04-Sep-04 ZP Saracens vs. Wasps (LDH) 13-11 Twickenham 12750
Season Average 9063

For most of the professional era Wasps played at Loftus Road, ground sharing with QPR. This arrangement came to rather an abrupt end in 2002. Fulham FC were looking for a temporary home whilst their home ground was being redeveloped and, sporting politics being what sporting politics is Wasps were told to look for another ground.

In many ways Wasps enforced move to share a ground with Wycombe Wanderers in what was then called Adams Park and is now the Causeway Stadium has turned out to be a blessing in disguise. As London Irish had discovered earlier, there is a substantial appetite for club rugby in the Thames Valley, crowds have grown very healthily since the move.

The big question now facing Wasps is where to next? The development of Craven Cottage is long since complete and Fulham have returned there. There is no sign of them moving back to Loftus Road, or indeed wanting to.

They have recently announced that they are in negotiations to stay at an expanded Causeway Stadium for the longer term. The great difficulty I see with this is that, given the location and access difficulties, any expansion would be marginal and the stadium will still be too small for their requirements. Indeed I would hazard to say that by signing any long term agreement they are in danger of shackling themselves.

How they must now wish the Madejski stadium in Reading was an option. Short of London Irish being relegated it is not an option. Leave aside the fact that LI have squatters rights, they have signed a lease on the Madejski until the end of this decade.

Despite all their success on and off field Wasps find themselves in something of a pickle. I can't see an easy answer. Nor, I would hazard to suggest, can they.

Season Average At. Position
(Out of)
Final ZP Position Percentage Growth
97-98 5834 7th(10) 9th(12)
98-99 5481 6th(10) 5th(14) -6.1%
99-00 4918 6th(10) 7th(12) -10.3%
00-01 5517 7th(11) 2nd(12) 12.2%
01-02 5861 8th(11) 7th(12) 6.2%
02-03 7728 6th(11) 2nd(12) 31.8%
03-04 7731 6th(12) 2nd(12) 0.0%
04-05 9063 6th(12) 2nd(12) 17.2%
Variation '97 - '05 55% 6th(12)
Crowd Growth Absolute 3228 8th(12)
Average Growth 7.3% 7th(12)

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