The Quins Supporters Association during a match at the Twickenham Stoop

Showdown 3 – fans’ issues with moving Premiership fixtures to big stadiums

The fast-approaching Showdown 3 hosted by Saracens at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium is the latest Premiership match to be played away from the home side’s usual ground in favour of a bigger venue.

It is a concept which their visitors, Harlequins, know all about, having hosted the Big Game for 14 consecutive years at Twickenham, rather than their regular home, the Twickenham Stoop.

Despite the palpable excitement around the latest Showdown, Scott Cooke, chair of the Harlequins Supporters Association is not so sure that straddling two homes is to the benefit of the fans, ahead of Quins hosting another game at Twickenham with the Big Summer Kick Off.

He said: “From reviews that we get form members, Big Game’s here to stay, the extra one just doesn’t sit quite as well with people.

“We’re very lucky because obviously they’re moving games to a stadium that’s a quarter of a mile from our home stadium, so it doesn’t really affect the travel.

“To be fair the atmosphere at the Big Game was brilliant. It is a really good one.”

The last Big Game took place this month in a Six Nations fallow week, and saw Quins beat Exeter Chiefs 40-5.

“It helps that the team played their socks off for the first time in quite a while so that obviously makes a difference,” Cooke added.

“The one that is new, and people aren’t so keen on, is Big Summer Kick Off.

“Whilst as a season ticket holder you’ll get your seat included, there’s only nine or ten thousand season ticket holders, so you’ll need a lot of the fee-paying members of the public to come along and if you pay that money for one game it’s not quite so enticing to go and see another one.”

This game debuted last season at Twickenham and returns at the end of April for its second edition.

But after train strikes delayed this terms Big Game beyond its customary festive slot in the calendar, and the Showdown this weekend, the Big Summer Kick Off is now competing with two other big events in close proximity.

While a regular ticket at the Stoop can cost as little as £16, an adult ticket to the Big Summer Kick Off starts at £35.

“With the game at the Spurs venue which a lot of people want to go to because it’s a brand-new state-of-the-art stadium, people may choose that instead of the Big Summer Kick Off,” said Cooke.

“The moving of Big Game to March, and the close proximity with Big Summer Kick Off may be why ticket sales aren’t going as well as the club had hoped. I think it just reflects people’s view on it as well.

“These things are out of the club’s control at times, but this year it would also be our last home game.”

Cooke also cited the familiar yet intangible feeling of home as a key reason for wanting to stay at the Stoop at such a time.

He said: “It’s frustrating that it’s not at the Stoop. That’s where people want to be.

“I know the financial reasons why the club want to do it, completely understand it, but the majority of people that I know would rather play at the Stoop.

“People that go will enjoy it, you want to support your club, but given the choice for your last home game of the season you want to be at home. Proper home.

“You’re sitting with your mates, whoever you’ve been sat with for many years around you.

“When you go to Twickenham, unless you buy everyone’s tickets together, you’re going with one other or a small group. It’s not the same.

“I’ve had my seat where I’m sitting now for around ten years, and I know 20 or 30 people sitting around me, and that’s part of the fun of going. And there’s something about the Stoop, you’re close to the pitch, there’s that noise. People want the last game to be at the Stoop.

“We have do understand the club’s perspective, but then if they don’t make the sales, are they making any money from it?”

At just over 30,000 sales so far, Twickenham is not yet due to even be at half capacity for the Big Summer Kick Off just three weeks away.

In the meantime a near-capacity crowd is expected for the Showdown 3  this weekend, and you can find the rest of our coverage of this big event here.

Feature image credit: Scott Cooke

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