Hewitt explains Saints’ decision to switch Saracens league fixture to Milton Keynes

Saints chairman Tony Hewitt

Saints chairman Tony Hewitt

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Chairman Tony Hewitt believes Saints’ decision to switch a game to Milton Keynes is vital to the club’s bid to bring more fans to Franklin’s Gardens in years to come.

The club’s home will soon be redeveloped with close to 2,000 extra seats being put in place in the new Barwell Stand, which will replace the Sturtridge Pavilion.

Saints regularly sell out the Gardens, but Hewitt is aware of the need to ensure there is a large fan base in place by the time the capacity is increased next summer.

And he feels the decision to move April’s home game against Saracens will help.

“The Rugby World Cup want to shake down the stadium before the World Cup games and they wanted us to hold a game there,” explained Hewitt.

“They wanted it to be a game that would sell out Milton Keynes.

“(Chief executive) Allan Robson did a good deal with them, and we’ve agreed to take the Saracens game there.

“It’s a very good deal for Northampton and we’re answering the Rugby World Cup’s call to help them out, which is important.

“We do need to widen our catchment area because with the new stand in 2015 we’re going to have to sell 2,000 more seats.

“It’s part of our marketing, but it’s come this time from the World Cup wanting to have a big match there and shake the stadium down for the tournament itself.”

England Rugby got in touch with Saints towards the end of last season about playing at stadium:mk, and the club were keen to help.

However, Hewitt has stressed that the club’s supporters were always factored into the decision and is hoping for another success story similar to the previous large attendances in Northampton games at the ground.

“We were keen to accommodate them (England Rugby) as long as we could reach the satisfactory commercial terms with them and not disadvantage our supporters,” said Hewitt.

“The season ticket holders will be given their equivalent seat at Milton Keynes and we’ll be doing some transport to Milton Keynes.

“We’re trying to soften the blow for our supporters, but we think is important to do this.

“All of the London clubs do a big game and this would be a big game for us.

“It’s part of our marketing for our new stand so we’ve got the extra people who go to Milton Keynes follow on and go to Northampton.”