Saints Cup match ‘biggest sporting occasion’ for city

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THE game is now just over two weeks away, and so the top brass of MK Dons and Northampton Saints were at stadium:mk this afternoon to give it one last push.

Dons chairman Pete Winkelman was joined by Northampton owner Keith Barwell to pose for pictures with the Heineken Cup ahead of Saints’ quarter final clash against Ulster on Sunday April 10.

Winkelman described the game as “the biggest sporting occasion” that Milton Keynes has seen. He said: “I’m really proud to have Northampton Saints here. I think it’s a great chance for the people of the city to watch top flight rugby - it’s just too good to miss and ticket sales show that.

“It’s top class sport and exactly what this stadium was built for. I hope it will be one of those days that becomes part of the memory of this stadium. It’s such a bonus for the city. I want us to be able to host great sporting events for the benefit of the local population. We can do top class hosting.”

Saints approached Dons back in August about the possibility of playing their Heineken Cup last eight tie in Milton Keynes because their Franklin’s Gardens home doesn’t have a capacity to match tournament requirements - 15,000 seats. And Winkelman said that doing a deal with opposite number Barwell was easy as it suited all involved, and will be of major financial benefit to both clubs.

He said: “Keith is a very fair guy, and we really wanted to host the game. When you have those two things there was never a moment of doubt - apart from that they wanted to play the game in Northampton and we understand that. But selfishly we’re really excited it’s coming here.”

An additional 1,500 tickets have been made available to Saints supporters thanks to returns being received by Ulster, but the game is expected to sell out at around 21,500.