Edinburgh Rugby and Spartans Football Club are exploring the possibility of a ground-share at Ainslie Park Stadium, the Evening News has learned.
Moves have begun that would see Spartans gain some additional finance that could assist in their quest to join the Scottish Football League under a new pyramid entry structure and give the rugby team a more intimidating arena in which to play Rabo Direct Pro 12 league matches.
For bigger Heineken European Cup matches, Edinburgh would return to Murrayfield in the same way that Leinster have been seen to alternate between Royal Dublin Showgrounds and the Aviva Stadium. Some concerns have been expressed over the ground capacity, but more than 3000 fans were accommodated when Manchester United sent a team to Ainslie Park, while figures put out by Edinburgh show they topped 4000 only twice at home this year.
Similarly, it is not expected that the artificial surface at Ainslie Park would present a problem. An artificial pitch to the rear of the main Murrayfield Stadium has proved popular and a few weeks ago, English Aviva Premiership side Saracens unveiled their new home featuring plastic “grass”.
A source close to the talks said: “Having Edinburgh Rugby at Ainslie Park would sit well with the community aspect of the facility.
“Also, Spartans might then have the ability to consider progressing quickly if they are admitted to the league given the possibility of an improved stadium through Edinburgh coming on board.
“From the SRU point of view it is widely recognised that
Edinburgh need something more compact that the international stadium. Moving in with Spartans would certainly cost less including the fact that they wouldn’t need any more people to run the facility.”
Edinburgh have been looking at an alternative to Murrayfield for some time but have run into a series of difficulties. These range from the run-down
Meadowbank to the priority given to school sports at venues such as Myreside.
Inverleith and Goldenacre, home of Stewart’s Melville and Heriot’s respectively, have no floodlights on the main pitch. Spartans and the SRU could not be contacted for comment.