RFU ditches leaked plan to ‘sell Twickenham and buy half of Wembley’

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) drew up extraordinary plans to sell Twickenham and buy half of Wembley Stadium, leaked documents have revealed.

According to reports in the Times and the Daily Telegraph, the RFU explored the option of selling Twickenham as an alternative to spending £663m on redeveloping the 82,000-capacity stadium in south west London.

As part of the plans, the RFU explored the possibility of buying 50 per cent of Wembley and sharing the stadium with the English Football Association.

However, the RFU insisted it remains “focused” on developing Twickenham - the home of English rugby - and, according to the Times, the RFU has rejected previous considerations of moving to “alternative sites”.

The RFU will stick with plans to redevelop Twickenham (Getty Images)
The RFU will stick with plans to redevelop Twickenham (Getty Images)

Such an option was headlined as plan “Leave” - pitched as a radical alternative to plan “Stay”. Both options were outlined in a 69-page document that was leaked to the Times on Monday evening.

The “Stay” option has been identified as the “preferred way forward” by the RFU, but such a plan would demand a huge financial cost.

In December, the RFU said it faced a “significant loss” for the 2023-24 financial year, while English rugby has been hit with financial issues over the last couple of years with several club sides including Wasps and Worcester Warriors plunged into administration.

But while the RFU acknowledged spending the estimated £663m on redeveloping Twickenham was “unaffordable”, it has ruled out moving to Wembley.

The FA did not receive a formal approach from the RFU (The FA via Getty Images)
The FA did not receive a formal approach from the RFU (The FA via Getty Images)

A RFU spokesperson said: “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.

“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 10 years. 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 £150m was needed, council members’ views and approval would be required. We do not anticipate major stadium works starting before 2027.”