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London Irish seals Brentford stadium lease deal

Rugby union club London Irish has struck a deal to switch home to London football club Brentford’s new Community Stadium.

Brentford, which competes in the EFL Championship, the second tier of English football, will move into its new 17,250-capacity home ahead of the start of the 2019-20 season.

London Irish has played at the Madejski Stadium in Reading for the past two decades, but has exercised a break clause in its deal, which was due to run until 2025-26.

The club, which currently plays in the second-tier Championship after relegation from the top flight last season, has agreed a lease deal to move in to Brentford’s stadium as a secondary tenant at the start of the 2020-21 campaign.

Confirmation of the deal comes 22 months after London Irish was initially granted a licence to play at the new facility by Hounslow Borough Council.

Brentford initially hoped that the new stadium would open this month, but the club announced in August that it would spend the entire season at Griffin Park, which has been its home since 1904.

The stadium will be part of a wider project featuring more than 900 new homes, shops and restaurants.

“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, reaching out to our previous west London catchment area, to Greater London and the Irish diaspora throughout the UK,” London Irish owner and president Mick Crossan said.

“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. The excellent transport links will mean that our existing and new supporters alike will find the stadium very accessible.”

Brentford chairman Cliff Crown added: “We are building a high-quality stadium fully equipped and ready from day one for the rigours and demands of both Premier League football and Premiership rugby. Like us, London Irish has a long history in the area and prides itself on having strong roots in the local community.”