Aviva Premiership: Wasps are on the up and up, says Haskell
Players take to the City of London to promote bond launch, but captain is focused on delivering results on the pitch
James Haskell believes Wasps are on the up ahead of their Aviva Premiership match with Leicester Tigers.
The Wasps captain was part of a group of players unleashed on the City of London on Thursday afternoon as the club promoted becoming the first sports club to launch a retail bond on the London Stock Exchange, which could net them up to £35 million.
The one thing I want to make sure this season is that the highlights aren’t we’ve moved stadium or we’ve launched a bond. I want to see good results and we want to be up there fighting for places and winning silverware.
The club is already set to enjoy a boost in its finances after buying the Ricoh Arena complex in Coventry, complete with conference and arena venue, casino and hotel, and relocating home matches to the Midlands, but the radical move to issue a retail bond could see the club become one of the world’s richest, if the projected figures are achieved.
While England star Haskell and his team-mates were happy to pose for photographs and meet workers and passers-by on the London Underground and in Paternoster Square in the City, he doesn’t want the club’s off-field activity to overshadow the rugby.
“It shows the endeavour, where the club is heading, and some of the faith the owners have in where we’re going,” Haskell said of the bond launch.
“As a rugby player, today is fantastic. We always want to support everything we do for the club.
“Being the first sports club ever to launch a bond is exciting, but for rugby players it’s the rugby that’s the most important thing.
“We’ve loved playing in Europe this year, it’s been good, the road trips have been great – that final jaunt to Toulon was incredible.
“Everything is on the up and up for Wasps, whether we’re releasing bonds or moving stadiums, but the foundation is built around the rugby and the one thing I want to make sure this season is that the highlights aren’t we’ve moved stadium or we’ve launched a bond.
“I want to see good results and we want to be up there fighting for places and winning silverware.”
Since their relocation from High Wycombe, Wasps have trebled their average home attendance to 18,569 and are on course to smash the 28,254 record attendance when play-off hopefuls Leicester Tigers arrive at the Ricoh on Saturday 9 May.
We had some nerves initially, but that’s all been put to the wayside. The fans have loved it, the boys are loving it, and hopefully the results are going the right way as well.
James Haskell on Wasps’ relocation to the Ricoh Arena
Currently sixth, three points behind fourth-placed Leicester, Wasps are still chasing a place in next season’s European Champions Cup with an outside chance of reaching the play-offs themselves, so there is plenty to play for when the two clubs collide next weekend.
The match at the 32,600-seater stadium – this season’s match dubbed’The Stinger’ – is close to selling out, with tickets on resale website StubHub already advertised at £200 such is the expected demand for what is now a Midlands derby – the last time the stadium was sold out was back in 2009 when Coventry City played Chelsea in the FA Cup quarter-finals.
And Haskell admits that the move to Coventry has been great for the club, but results on the field are what matter most.
“The move to the Ricoh is fantastic – it’s revolutionised what Wasps is about,” Haskell added.
“We’ve tripled the number of supporters we’ve had. We had some nerves initially, but that’s all been put to the wayside.
“The fans have loved it, the boys are loving it, and hopefully the results are going the right way as well.
“Playing Leicester in a sell-out at home, the [stadium’s] 10-year anniversary, it’s going to be a huge occasion.
“The most important thing is results and trying to finish as impressive as you can.”