Bristol believe Ashton Gate should be used as the neutral venue for the restart of the Premiership, which has been pencilled in for the beginning of July.
Clubs were asked by Premiership Rugby to put their grounds forward for consideration, with the governing body looking for one stadium to host the remaining matches in the season for safety and logistical reasons. A set of criteria has been drawn up, which does not include capacity because the games would be played behind closed doors.
The stadium would need rooms for multiple teams to change and prepare, have a surface able to stand up to a number of matches in one day and have training facilities nearby.
“We are pushing Ashton Gate because it is a tremendous stadium with easy access,” said the Bristol chief executive, Mark Tainton. “Premiership Rugby has asked clubs if they are prepared to volunteer their stadium and I think we meet the criteria. We are not there yet and there are a couple of other clubs involved.”
Premiership Rugby is meeting on Thursday to contemplate the issue as well as discussing when players will be able to return to training, with talks scheduled with the government and medical advisers. “There could be one or two venues, that has to be confirmed,” said Tainton. “BT will be looking to film as many games as they can and two venues would mean they would have to double-up. Our facilities are excellent.”
Also up for discussion at the meeting will be Lord Myners’s report on the salary cap regulations, which was published last week. Among his recommendations is one to review the provision for two marquee players outside the cap, which he said “cuts across the objective of equality and competition and creates unhelpful inflation and pressure on wages”.
Bristol will oppose both a move to end the marquee dispensation and reduce the level of the cap from the end of next season. “It is not for us to go to a level that accommodates other people and is the lowest common denominator,” said Tainton. “It is time to kick on and make the Premiership the best league in the world. If we take a step back now will we ever take one forward again?”
Bristol’s director of rugby, Pat Lam, said he is ready to resume training once the nod is given to do so. “We have looked at every scenario, such as whether players will be able to pass a ball, and there will be a one-way system coming into the training ground with five guys at a time,” he said.
“The players have been sending me videos of what they have been doing and I am excited because all this time to practice their skills means no one should be coming back rusty.”