THE €365 million redevelopment of Dublin’s Lansdowne Road stadium is facing a fresh hurdle — a potential High Court battle over a clubhouse.
Rugby minnows Wanderers FC, whose ‘ringside’ pavilion occupies a corner of the ground, are angry about plans to re-locate their pavilion away from the hallowed turf.
The Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) has offered the All-Ireland League division three champions various packages to sweeten the move, including compensation, a corporate box and increased ticket allocation for big fixtures.
But the club does not want to lose its prime spot and is threatening to take the IRFU to the High Court over the clubhouse in an increasingly acrimonious dispute.
The IRFU is threatening to demolish the existing clubhouse so work to create the stadium can go ahead and transform the Ballsbridge stadium into a 50,000-seater venue.
In a statement last night Wanderers FC bosses said they would go to the High Court after receiving letters from the IRFU’s solicitors signalling the start of work.
“The IRFU stated that they can and will demolish the Wanderers pavilion without Wanderers’ consent. Wanderers FC believes this to be in flagrant breach of their agreement with the IRFU.
“Therefore (we have) no alternative but to seek the protection of the courts to prevent the IRFU from following through with its threat,” said the statement issued by the Fleishman-Hillard public relations company.
The IRFU has already agreed terms with Lansdowne RFC over the redevelopment, which is slated to be finished in 2009.
The IRFU wants to move the Wanderers FC’s pavilion to a new location inside the confines of the stadium ground but away from the main pitch.
Wanderers FC are unhappy over the rights and title to the proposed new clubhouse, its position as well as ticket allocation to international fixtures.
Wanderers bosses last night insisted they were fully committed to the redevelopment of Lansdowne Road and the future of Irish rugby, adding they had no wish to delay the project.
“However, Wanderers also has obligations to its members, past, current and future, and to the club’s history and ethos,” the statement said.
Last night the IRFU promised to defend any bid by Wanderers to get an injunction over the clubhouse, adding that the club was holding up the re-development.
“The IRFU wishes to state its regret and disappointment at the course of action by Wanderers FC.
“The union does not believe that there is merit in the actions of Wanderers FC which seek to prevent the re-development of Lansdowne Road.
“The IRFU will, on behalf of the clubs and rugby fraternity of Ireland, be robustly defending its position and its right to re-develop Lansdowne Road for the good of Irish rugby,” said a statement.