Rec's future decided by end of February

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The Independent Online

The long argument over the future of the Recreation Ground in Bath is finally reaching its denouement with a decision expected by the end of next month at the latest. The trustees who control the charity-owned site were due to make a private presentation to the rugby club's board today, setting out their views on how a modernstadium, with the potential to hold over 20,000 spectators, might be built on the banks on the Avon.

If Andrew Brownsword, the club's chairman and financier-in-chief, accepts the thrust of the trustees' document – far from a foregone conclusion given his determination to secure a lease stretching into the next century and his concerns over the divisionof money generated by non-rugby activities – Bath may have a long-term future at the Rec. If this latest round of negotiations fizzles out, the club will take up the offer of a temporary groundshare with Swindon Town FC.

The ground was at the centre of a fierce little spat on Saturday after the Premiership match between Bath and Wasps was postponed 90 minutes before the intended kick-off. Staff from the home club had worked on the pitch throughout the night, fending off the freezing temperatures with covers and heaters, but members of Wasps' back-room staff, not least the head coach Shaun Edwards, made clear their concerns over the state of the pitch. Indeed, the players never left their hotel, a stroll from the stadium.

Bath, more than £20,000 out of pocket by the postponement, felt the game could and should have gone ahead. Simon Halliday, the former centre who is now on the board, accused Wasps of placing "undue pressure" on the French referee Romain Poite, who had reinforcements in Chris White, the international official from Gloucestershire, and Ed Morrison, who runs the Rugby Football Union's elite referee department. All three spent time discussing the situation with Edwards before accepting that if Wasps were unwilling to play there could be no game. The match will probably take place on 31 January, a week before the start of the Six Nations Championship.

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