A PREMIERSHIP rugby club have approached Barnet Council about the possibility of taking over a dilapidated athletics stadium.

Saracens RFC have held talks meeting with council officials about Copthall Stadium in Mill Hill as part of their search for a new home for the club.

Last year's beaten Premiership finalists have been searching for a new ground since Watford Football Club activated a break-clause in their ground share agreement, meaning they could be without a permanent home by the end of the season.

Saracens chief executive Edward Griffiths has already said the club, which has financial backing from a consortium of South African investors, were looking for a smaller stadium as their permanent home.

When asked about a potential move to Copthall he said: “We have always said that as soon as these discussions come anywhere near a formal level then we will move forward.

“At the moment, to provide a commentary on all of our contact with stadium owners would be difficult, it is a long list.

“There are a whole range of options that we are looking at. There are probably 30 or 40 various bodies we have spoken to in the past two years.”

In a statement leader of Barnet Council, Lynne Hillan said: "Copthall stadium has long needed investment and it would be foolish of us not to discuss any proposal that would develop a much-loved facility and support and enhance community use."

The ground is currently used by Kentish Town Football Club, which recently acquired the nearby Chase Lodge playing fields which it intends to develop along with Hampstead FC.

In 2001 plans to build a 10,000 seater stadium for Barnet Football Club on the site were thrown out by a government planning inspector after fierce opposition from local residents.

Hendon MP Matthew Offord told the Times Series: “I would certainly welcome investment into Copthall, it's not been invested in for many years. I would be interested to see what comes out of it.

“I am concerned there's not any overdevelopment on the site, but I look forward to the proposals that emerge with Saracens.”

The stadium has also been earmarked as a potential Olympic training venue for athletes when the Games roll into London in 2012.

Jon Dix, a stadium consultant who lives in Barnet, said the site had potential for development, but added it was “difficult to get to” on public transport, a potential stumbling block.

He added extra funds were available to Premiership clubs looking to build their own stadiums from the Rugby Football Union.

A potential move was greeted cautiously by Gordon Kerr, a leading sports field campaigner, who said Saracens could bring investment into new youth sports facilities in Barnet.