Inside Croydon‘s exclusive yesterday that Crystal Palace owner Steve Parish has offered to discuss ground-sharing with London Welsh rugby club has sparked much debate across sports online bulletin boards and forums.
A poll of fans has so far found approval of the idea of hosting top-flight rugby in SE25 with nearly two-thirds of respondents. And half of those Palace fans say that they would be interested in attending Premiership rugby games staged at Selhurst Park. Only 29 per cent had voted against by noon Saturday, the poll having been operating since Friday evening.
The main concern of many fans is the state of and maintenance of the pitch. Rugby scrums have a habit of churning up the turf, especially in wet weather, which is not desirable for a football team that likes to play the ball along the ground.
But similar ground-sharing arrangements at Reading and at Wycombe, where London Irish and Wasps play their games, have shown that good groundsmen are able to cope with the demands.
“The ball would be on the ground more than when we shared with Wimbledon,” one Palace fan commented.
“We’ve spent, or are due to invest, a fair amount in the pitch. Plenty of teams share with a rugby team – look at Swansea, Wigan and Cardiff. Doesn’t seem to cause them a problem.”
Another fan wrote: “I would be well up for this. Bit of ruggers down at Selhurst every so often, discounts for Palace season ticket holders. And another chance to the Crystals to get them out too. Winning.”
Andy Street, of Five Year Plan fanzine, occasional contributors to this site, is also in broad agreement: “Never done Reading any harm having London Irish there. Get the Welshies down!”
The notion that beer can be bought and drunk while watching a game of rugby seems to have won universal approval among Palace fans.
Not everyone is convinced, though.
“I’m a little worried that it might take some of our prospective fan base,” wrote one fan. “Take someone who at the minute doesn’t attend CPFC but maybe swayed to come to a few games here and there but then sees that rugby is on … they might use their spare cash going rugby instead of Palace.
“Also if Palace are playing away, then some fans might take the easier option of watching a game of rugby at Selhurst instead of all the hassle of travelling up to Barnsley or Huddersfield.”
Yet even this poster saw the prime benefit to the club: “Hope I’m wrong because it could be a good revenue stream for the club.”
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