London Irish to make long-awaited return to the capital as rugby club confirm ground share with Brentford
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London Irish to make long-awaited return to the capital as rugby club confirm ground share with Brentford

LONDON IRISH are set for a return to the capital for the first time in two decades after they confirmed their long-awaited ground share deal with Brentford FC from summer 2020.

The rugby club's first team have played their home matches at Reading's Madejski Stadium since 2000 but train 30 miles away in their original home of Sunbury, Surrey.

But in a statement this morning, the Exiles confirmed their boys will be back in town from the start of the 2020/2021 season when they move into the EFL Championship football club's new Community Stadium in west London.

The 17,250-capacity ground, on Lionel Road just north of Kew Bridge, has also been confirmed as a host venue for the UEFA Women's European Championship in 2021.

Brentford will have primacy of use over the stadium, which is due to be completed between March and June 2020.

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London Irish RFC president Mick Crossan said: "In moving to the Brentford Community Stadium we feel confident that we will be able to attract a larger supporter base to join us as we build for the future.

"We are therefore very pleased to have agreed this deal with Brentford’s management, and are looking forward to working closely with them to make the Brentford Community Stadium an outstanding home for us.

"The stadium will be an outstanding venue. It is the right size in a great location and will provide a superb match-day experience for our supporters and sponsors alike."

London Irish enjoyed considerable success in Reading, winning the Powergen Cup in 2002 and reaching the Heineken Cup semi-finals and the Premiership final in 2009.

But in recent years the club has twice been relegated to the Championship, and have found it increasingly difficult to attract fans to turn out in force in Berkshire.

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With promotion back to the top tier of English rugby this season more than likely, Irish fans will be hoping the news can propel the club back to where it belongs among the giants of Premiership Rugby.