The RFU explored possibility of selling Twickenham and moving the home of English rugby to Wembley, it has been revealed


The Rugby Football Union reportedly considered selling Twickenham last year and buying 50 per cent of Wembley Stadium before ditching the idea, which would have sent shockwaves through English rugby.

In leaked documents read by a number of UK news outlets, the plan was part of a “leave” option that provided an alternative to the £663 million redevelopment deemed necessary, information that was contained within a 69-page blueprint titled “Twickenham Stadium Masterplan Programme”.

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Why would the RFU sell Twickenham?

Had it been pursued, the RFU would have looked into acquiring a 50 per cent share of Wembley, the home of English football, while it’s possible Twickenham would have been demolished.

It’s understood that no conversations with the FA took place, and that radical action has now been shelved in favour of the “stay” option, which will involve major renovation of the iconic venue that played host to England’s narrow victory over Wales in the second round of 2024 Six Nations fixtures.

“While the Masterplan Programme Team has focused efforts on developing the PWF [preferred way forward] ‘Stay’ option and as such not sought to advance the ‘Leave’ option, whereby the RFU would explore the potential to dispose of Twickenham Stadium and purchase a 50 per cent share of Wembley Stadium,” reads the masterplan.

“This was based on a board-approved recommendation (March 2023) to retain the Leave option as a reserve but defer formal engagement with the Football Association and financial investment until further feasibility clarity is obtained with the Stay option and licensing authority views.”

The huge redevelopment package detailed in the blueprint is expected to involve work to all four stands, the roof and the surrounding car parks to ensure the stadium “stays up to date” and “provides the best possible experience for fans”.

Although the £663m estimate is deemed “unaffordable” at the moment, plans to invest £300m for essential works are in place, although any loan of more than £150m requires prior approval from the RFU Council.

Work is not expected to start before 2027, with men’s and women’s matches to be taken to other venues around the country while Twickenham is out of action.

“Our long-term masterplan for Twickenham Stadium is being developed to ensure England’s national rugby stadium stays up to date, is compliant with all relevant regulations, provides the best possible experiences for fans, and continues to generate revenue for reinvestment into the community and professional game,” an RFU statement said.

“Work will be undertaken over the next 12 months to consider next stage designs and assess what interventions might take place and when within the existing stadium footprint over the next ten years.

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“The RFU board has not agreed any new redevelopment plans. However, as you would expect all options will be thoroughly considered as part of a long-term strategy.

“As plans are further developed, the RFU board and council will be fully consulted and engaged in the due diligence and approval process. This would include any potential funding sources. As per the RFU constitution, if borrowing of over £150 million was needed, council members’ views and approval would be required.

“The RFU is focused on continuing to develop Twickenham Stadium. Previous considerations looking at the viability of moving to alternative sites have been rejected. We do not anticipate major stadium works starting before 2027.”

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