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Saracens CEO Edward Griffiths says it's "just too soon" for Heineken Cup quarter-final to be held at Allianz Park
Saracens CEO Edward Griffiths admits it is "just too soon" for the club to hold the Men in Black's crunch Heineken Cup quarter-final against Ulster at Allianz Park.
Sarries were hoping to satisfy tournament rules by temporarily extending the capacity at their new home from 10,000 to 15,000 but after discussions with Barnet council the club have opted to host the match at Twickenham instead.
Griffiths admits playing the game at Allianz Park was the preferred option but understands that the stadium needs to prove its functionality first.
"We've just moved into a stadium and while I think everybody within Barnet recognised the appeal of this game it's just too soon," Griffiths said.
"We're moving into a new venue, a new area and it was just too soon to extend the capacity for a one-off match.
"We took into account the views of the council and we value the trust that we built among the local community and for that reason we've opted to take the game to Twickenham."
Griffiths says the club chose not to make a formal application to extend Allianz Park after holding discussions with Barnet council and suggested transport issues were an important factor in the decision.
He said: "We need to wait and see how the stadium unfolds, how the travel plans unfold - if it's clear that 10,000 people can get in and out of Allianz Park without causing major disruption then who knows what happens in the future.
"The point we're making now is that we're very confident that our transport plan will work but we appreciate that people want to see it working before making any further commitments.
"We've worked very hard to establish a level of confidence and trust among the local community and we understand and accept that this match was probably too soon."
Saracens have hosted matches at a variety of venues this season and Griffiths insists the Men in Black will still enjoy a home advantage at the 80,000 seater stadium.
He continued: "It would have been nice to have played the match at Allianz Park but there are a lot of Saracens players in the England squad who are very familiar with Twickenham, who would regard Twickenham almost as a second home.
"So we believe we will still have a significant home advantage playing Ulster at Twickenham."
Sarries played their first match at Allianz Park on Sunday ahead of the official opening against Exeter Chiefs on February 16.
Griffiths stressed that extending the ground was only ever meant to be a temporary measure for the one-off match and that the current 10,000 capacity remains sufficient going forward.
"This proposal was to increase the capacity for a one-off match which you could say is arguably one of the most important matches we've played - a Heineken Cup quarter-final at home," he said.
"Throughout the planning application we said a crowd of 10,000 was sufficient and that's still the case."
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