London Scottish to move away from Richmond Athletic Ground

Decision to leave historic home is aimed at helping club to reach its full potential, says President Paul Burnell

London Scottish have been based at the Athletic Ground since 1897. Image courtesy: London Scottish
London Scottish have been based at the Athletic Ground since 1897. Image courtesy: London Scottish

LONDON SCOTTISH have announced that it will move away from the home it has shared with Richmond FC since 1894 at the end of the coming season, having decided that the club needs to find a permanent base to call its own in order to reach full potential.

“The two clubs [London Scottish and Richmond] this week agreed an amicable parting of the ways after four years of negotiations over their future together,” said a statement issued by the club this afternoon.

“The decision was driven by the operational difficulties of the Richmond Athletic Ground hosting two competing Championship clubs on the same ground and by London Scottish’s need to secure its commercial sustainability.”


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London Scottish’s 1st XV will temporarily play at the home of Esher RFC for 2021-22 and 2022-23 seasons, while a venue for the rest of the club is expected to be announced in the near future, while negotiations for a new permanent home continue.

“We have been looking for some time at the long-term future for our club, which will be 150 years old in 2028,” said London Scottish President Paul Burnell, who played 52 games for Scotland at tight-head prop between 1989 and 1999, and who was a member of the 1990 Grand Slam team. “By then we will be well settled in a new permanent home where we can maximise the revenue required to deliver on our exciting plans.

“We will be presenting those plans, our Vision 150, to members, shareholders, sponsors and supporters later this month, along with the three-to-five-year pathway for achieving all our objectives.

“We have identified a number of sites for a new permanent home in South West London, where we can develop all our activities, from minis and juniors and girls’ rugby, through to touch and amateur rugby and of course sustain our professional 1st XV at the highest achievable level.

“By moving, we will also be able to increase engagement with our local community, expanding our support for children in need and their parents and teachers, which is just not practical at Richmond, who themselves have extensive community programmes.”

“It will be an enormous emotional wrench to leave our old home after 127 years. I played most of my adult rugby there and, like my team mates and those who played before me and since, I formed precious, lifelong friendships with Richmond as well as London Scottish players. Each year the clubs stand together at the war memorial we built together, to remember the hundreds of our two clubs’ former players who gave their lives.”

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It will represent the end of an era for more than just those directly connected with the club. For many Scotland-based fans who have made the bi-annual pilgrimage to Twickenham for the Calcutta Cup match, the Athletic Ground holds a special significance as a meeting place before and after the big game. 

London Scottish Chairman Malcolm Offord added: “Like Paul, I will always cherish memories of playing at the Athletic Ground and forging friendships with team mates and Richmond rivals alike. But we have an exciting future ahead of us with partners keen to invest in and support our plans once we move, and the whole club will benefit.”

Richmond Rugby Chairman Nick Preston said: “It’s an emotional moment for both clubs but, like London Scottish, we increasingly feel the Athletic Ground cannot support two competing and ambitious clubs, and this is the right decision for both of us. But we are going to celebrate one final season together, and matches between us at all levels from 1st XV to minis will always be very special.”

  • On the playing front, London Scottish announced yesterday that former Glasgow Hawks, Glasgow Warriors and Scotland 7s utility-back Bobby Beattie has extended his stay at the club for one moe season.

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David Barnes
About David Barnes 1880 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.

3 Comments

  1. Hmmm. Could this be the first big step towards them becoming the third “franchise”, so to speak?

  2. Last time I was in London and visited the Club I have to say the changing rooms looked very much like the did in the 70’s when I played there so perhaps it is the correct move but it is still yet another stomping ground that will be gone, well it will still be there but it will not be the same looking up above the bar and not seeing the LS photographs and the memories that they bring.

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