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Harlequins - Between a Rock and a Hard Place


By BrianC
July 11 2005

Harlequins have been relegated this season. Critics of the club have been quick to point out that they spent too much on their ground to the detriment of the team on the field. The truth is that they had no alternative other than to invest heavily in The Stoop. Off field Harlequins are thriving

Harlequins - 2004/5 Season

30-Apr-05  ZP  Harlequins vs Sale 22-23  The Stoop 8500
09-Apr-05  ZP  Harlequins vs London Irish 20-25  The Stoop 8500
13-Mar-05  ZP  Harlequins vs Newcastle 39-23  The Stoop 8240
19-Feb-05 ZP  Harlequins vs Worcester 9-15  The Stoop 8166
05-Feb-05  ZP  Harlequins vs Gloucester 38-9  The Stoop 8782
02-Jan-05 ZP  Harlequins vs Wasps  15-27  The Stoop 9687
28-Nov-03  ZP  Harlequins vs Leeds Tykes 31-17  The Stoop 6447
12-Nov-04  ZP  Harlequins vs Saracens 40-10  The Stoop 8050
16-Oct-04 ZP Harlequins vs Leicester Tigers 9-15 The Stoop 9954
25-Sep-04 ZP Harlequins vs Bath 10-18 The Stoop 8844
11-Sep-04 ZP Harlequins vs Northampton Saints 13-45 The Stoop 7823
04-Sep-04 ZP London Irish vs Harlequins (LDH) 18-12 Twickenham 12750
      Season Average 8812

Off field Harlequins have thrived. Growth in the 04/05 this season has been a very healthy 29.9%, this can be attributed to development at The Stoop where a new North Stand was built last close season. As has been the case on so many occasions at different clubs, latent demand ensured that this extra capacity was quickly taken up. Most of Quins home games this season have had capacity crowds.

Expansion continues apace. The old West stand was demolished in the new year. In it's place for the start of the 05/06 season will be a large stand, not dissimilar to that currently on the East side of the ground. Capacity at the Stoop will then be in the region of 13k.  Had Quins remained in the premiership I have little doubt that this extra capacity would also have been taken up, if not immediately then within a couple of seasons. 

What is less easy to estimate is just how much their crowds will hold up in ND1. Season ticket sales thus far are good, they look set to reach 4k.  It is thus very possible they will do quite well with average gates in excess of 6k. We shall see. 

Whilst nothing should be taken for granted Quins must be favourites to bounce straight back into the premiership next season. We will then no doubt see the unloved, and by recent reports dangerous, South Stand replaced and the Stoop with a capacity of 14-15k.

Relegation has been a nightmare for Quins supporters but there is perhaps an even darker cloud on the horizon. Once this development is complete there is no further room for expansion at the Stoop, period. In the medium to long term it is highly likely that even a fully developed ground will be too small for professional club rugby in this country. As we move towards the end of this decade crowds of 20k at club rugby games will not be unusual. I make no bones about it, at some stage in the not too distant future Quins are going to have to move from the Stoop.

It is likely that Quins will hold on to their current home for as long as they possibly can. They own the freehold. It is in a prime location. Amongst other things they have a healthy revenue stream from the major fixtures across the road at HQ when the Stoop serves as an overflow hospitality area. Sooner or later however the crunch will come, relegation may have delayed things but not for long. 

The question then will be, are the Quins management capable of taking the tough decision? Or will they, as Bath have done, bury their head in the sand? There are no easy answers.

Season Average Att. Position
(Out of)
Final ZP Position Percentage Growth
97-98 5903 6th(10) 10th(12)
98-99 5457 7th(10) 4th(14) -7.5%
99-00 4343 8th(10) 10th(12) -20.4%
00-01 4744 7th(11) 11th(12) 9.2%
01-02 6690 7th(11) 9th(12) 41.0%
02-03 6722 8th(11) 7th(12) 0.5%
03-04 6785 10th(12) 6th(12) 0.9%
04-05 8812 7th(12) 12th(12) 29.9%
Variation '97 - '05 49% 9th(12)
Crowd Growth Absolute 2909 10th(12)
Average Growth 7.7% 10th(12)

 

 

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