Northampton Saints Rugby Club has announced plans to increase the capacity of their stadium to 15,000.

The Saints hope the extra 2,000 will help bring in additional revenue to the club to help compete with other Aviva Premiership sides. It will also mean that the Saints will be able to host quarter final ties in the ERC Heineken Cup meeting the strict guidelines currently in place.

Franklin's Gardens has been expanded in recent years to its present capacity of 13,591, and the side has had no problem filling it with an average attendance of 98% for every Aviva Premiership Rugby match for the last few seasons. Northampton-born-and-bred winger, Paul Diggin, welcomed the news and said: "I think it's fantastic. It's brilliant for the town as well, if you think we've got 10 percent of the population of Northampton coming here every weekend.

"The fact that we're regular Heineken Cup participants now can only mean good things, especially if we can make the knockout stages and play them here. Milton Keynes is a fantastic venue - everything was done to make it a home venue for us - but it's not quite Franklin's Gardens. To have more bums on seats in the future and more atmosphere here will be brilliant."

The club is hoping the new redevelopment will help bring the stadium up to date and help the Saints remain competitive on and off the pitch.

A Saints statement read: “The Saints is an ambitious club, but in order to keep up with clubs such as Leicester and Gloucester - both who are either in the middle of expanding their stadium or have done so recently. Saracens and London Irish - play in significantly larger football stadiums - in potential earning power we must do the same.”

Posted on 24/09/2011