London Irish and Reading Football Club can announce that the Exiles will be leaving Madejski Stadium at the end of the 2019-20 season.
In the early years of professional rugby, London Irish quickly outgrew the capacity of its spiritual home at The Avenue in Sunbury and, needing to comply with Premiership Rugby requirements, had to move its home ground, initially sharing Harlequins' stadium at The Stoop for one season in 1999 before then moving its first team games to Madejski Stadium in 2000.
And while London Irish have enjoyed many successful years at Reading and are extremely grateful to Reading Football Club, who have been excellent landlords, the club’s ambition has long been to return to west London and to re-establish itself closer to its historic base.
And an agreement has been reached with Brentford FC to allow London Irish's games to be played at their new Brentford Community Stadium - which, currently under construction, is due to open in time for the 2020-21 season.
The Exiles' departure date has now been set for 20 years since London Irish first took up tenancy in the Thames Valley and London Irish President Mick Crossan thanked the Reading FC management for the positive relationship that the two clubs have experienced in that time.
He said, “I would like to thank everyone at Reading Football Club, who have made us feel welcome at Madejski Stadium over the past 19 years, especially Sir John Madejski, CEO Nigel Howe, Financial Director Bryan Stabler, Stadium Manager Ray Booth and, most recently, owners Mr Yongge Dai and Ms Xiu Li Dai. I would like to wish Reading Football Club every success in the future.”
“We have enjoyed our time in Reading and have made many friends at the football club and in the surrounding area - these years will always be a significant part of our history.”
Reading Football Club CEO, Nigel Howe, said “As a club, we have thoroughly enjoyed a strong long-term relationship with London Irish who have been excellent partners for nearly two decades at Madejski Stadium.
“We understand and agree with their decision to move back to their heartland and appreciate that, as Brentford prepare to move into new stadium facilities being built in closer proximity to their Sunbury training base, this is the right time for them to relocate and play their rugby closer to the club’s London roots.
“We naturally look forward to working alongside London Irish during the remaining months of their tenancy and everyone at Reading Football Club would like to wish them every success for the future.”