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Rotherham Titans to play at Oakwell next season if promoted

By Doug O'Kane, Sports Editor Saturday 12th April 2014

Rotherham Titans and Barnsley Football Club have agreed a groundshare deal for Oakwell which is expected to net the Reds around a quarter of a million pounds.


The arrangement has been made on the proviso that the rugby club get promoted to the Premiership while it is Barnsley's preference that their tenants drop Rotherham from their name.


Barnsley chief executive Ben Mansford told the Chronicle: "The Titans approached us and we feel that, commercially, it would make sense to have them as a tenant if they are playing in the Aviva Premiership. It is definitely going to happen if they go up."


The Rotherham club are almost certain to qualify for the end-of-season play-offs in rugby's second tier, the English Championship, but would not be allowed to play in the Premiership at their current 2,500-capacity Clifton Lane ground which is deemed too small by the Rugby Football Union.

Rotherham United do not want rugby played at their New York Stadium while the owners of Millers' former home Millmoor are thought to be asking for too much money.


Titans chairman Nick Cragg said: "Of course we would prefer to be playing in Rotherham but there is nowhere in the town for us to play. We put a request out to all the sports clubs in the surrounding area and Barnsley and Mansfield were the only clubs to respond positive.  Mansfield don't meet the requirements of having a 10,000-seater stadium and Barnsley are in South Yorkshire which is a plus.


"Barnsley is a great club. We have visited Oakwell a few times and have been very impressed by the facilities and with Ben and Rachel Hearne (commercial manager). If we get promoted, we will play at Oakwell.  My chief executive and Ben made a lot of progress on the deal last week and now it's just up to the RFU (union's governing body in this country) to dot some Is and cross some Ts."


Reds fans may be concerned about the state the Oakwell pitch may be left in by an expected 14 rugby matches being played on it during the football season. Cragg insists his side's games will not mess-up the Oakwell pitch too badly and points to other examples football and rugby clubs sharing a ground.


He said: "Reading share the Madejski Stadium with London Irish and London Wasps play at Wycombe Wanderers' Adams Park. Our near neighbours Doncaster Rovers share the Keepmoat Stadium with Doncaster Rugby Union Club. "Half of the matches will be played in autumn and spring when the weather should be fair so it would only be a very small number of games that could do any damage to the pitch at all.


"I would hope that Barnsley fans will embrace having top flight rugby union on their doorstep. They would be able to see some of the best teams and players in the country, if not the world. They would have the highest-placed rugby union club in Yorkshire playing in their town. I think it could be a good thing for our club and for Barnsley. "We would hope for crowds of between 4,500 and 8,000 at Oakwell."