Bath Rugby Club under new ownership

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Bath was under new ownership today after West Country-born entrepreneur and businessman Bruce Craig bought the Guinness Premiership club from Andrew Brownsword.

Owner and chairman Brownsword and the trustees have sold 100% of the club's shares to the former rugby player.

Craig told "It's a great honour to be handed the opportunity of continuing the development of this prestigious club.

"Bath Rugby is one of Europe's elite clubs with a huge heritage and impressive past honours. The city provides the club with a unique backdrop that drives an incredible passion for the game in players, staff and supporters.

"I hope to be able to combine my business experience and my passion for rugby to take this club to another level.

"My aim is for Bath to earn the right to be seen as one of the best clubs in professional rugby - a benchmark for others both on and off the field - and create a stronger infrastructure for future sustainability.

"Subject to approval, this will involve new training facilities for players, a new headquarters for all our staff and a stadium that is truly fit for a world renowned club like Bath, to take Bath Rugby to the next stage of its development in the professional game."

Bath today revealed a proposal to create a new club headquarters and elite training complex at Farleigh House, in Farleigh Hungerford, 15 minutes from the centre of Bath.

The club also emphasised their renewed commitment to plans for a 20,000-25,000 seater stadium which they hope will be confirmed within the next 12 months.

Bath chief executive Nick Blofeld said: "With a limited amount of conversion, Farleigh House gives us the opportunity to relocate players, support team and office staff to a single, great location and inspiring setting, which will significantly improve our facilities and communication.

"If approved by the planning authorities, it will give us the sort of training facilities and headquarters that everyone can be proud of.

"It will also help us improve our operations and encourage our current and potential sponsors and partners to become even more involved, to speed our development into a truly world class rugby club."

Craig claimed a new stadium was key to Bath's future.

"The Rec is unique, has historic significance and is probably the most iconic rugby ground in the country," he said.

"But its facilities are also woefully inadequate for players and supporters alike.

"Clearly outdated for modern rugby, we need to press on with either a development of the Rec or a new stadium elsewhere.

"A new stadium is a vital component of producing a financially successful club in the long term that is capable of winning trophies regularly."

The Rec has been the home of Bath since 1895, but has a current capacity of 11,700.

Craig added: "There has been much local debate about our future stadium plans. I wish to be clear that I am committed to make every effort, with the council and other business partners, to secure a new stadium, with modern associated facilities by 2015 and with everyone's support we are hoping to deliver that solution within the city of Bath."

Outgoing chairman Brownsword, who has been at the helm of the club for 14 years, claimed Craig was the ideal man to make Bath as successful as possible.

He said: "My desire to sell has been something of an open secret for some time. We have talked with many interested groups but I believe, in Bruce Craig, we have now found the man who can really take this club forward.

"Bath Rugby is world renowned and Bruce's ambition to earn Bath the right to call it the best club in professional rugby - on and off the pitch - is one I applaud.

"As a former player who grew up in this area, Bruce not only has huge enthusiasm for the game but is also committed to this club. Today's announcements confirm this. I know that Bruce will protect and enhance Bath's heritage going forward, and ultimately deliver the trophies that we all crave."