A £1.5m redevelopment of Coventry Rugby Football Club’s Butts Park Arena could begin as early as next year, according to chairman Jon Sharp.Plans for the 4,000-capacity ground near the city centre include a 3G pitch and upgraded changing facilities.Sharp told BBC Coventry & Warwickshire the National League One club are “investigating sources of funding” and are confident the plans are realistic.
“We would like to start this close season,” he told The Rugby Show.”We have had preliminary discussions with the city council and they have been very supportive. We could have a really good looking stadium that would do more than just rugby and other sports.”Coventry’s rugby historyIn the days before professional rugby truly began in 1996, Coventry RFC were one of the foremost sides in England.In 1987, they were founder members of the Courage League – English rugby’s first national club league.In 1996-97, in the first season of the newly-formed Premiership, as a second tier club, they came as close as they have done to reaching the exclusive top flight, losing to London Irish a two-leg play-off.After all but one of 22 seasons at English rugby’s second-tier level, they dropped down to the third tier in 2010.Championship targetSharp, who last week ruled out the possibility of groundsharing with footballing neighbours Coventry City, said the club are in healthy shape on the pitch as they look to win promotion to the Championship.They are currently nine points clear at the top of League One, well on course to escape the third tier. And, although there is now the rival attraction of Premiership rugby in the city, since Wasps moved to Coventry in December 2014, Sharp says the plan is to be in the top third of English rugby’s second tier within “five or six years”.”The key word we use is sustainability,” Sharp explained. “There is no point in going up and coming back down again, so everything we are trying to do is to make the club more sustainable. “We should secure ourselves in the Championship – maybe at the top of the bottom third – and try to move up through the ranks.”Jon Sharp was talking to BBC Coventry & Warwickshire’s Alec Blackman