The tournament's regulations stipulate that a quarter final has to be played in a stadium with a minimum capacity of 15,000, but once the home quarter final had been confirmed with last Saturday's win over Castres the Saints approached tournament organisers ERC to seek approval for the game against Ulster to be played at Franklin's Gardens, which has a capacity of 13,591.
However ERC insisted that their regulations be adhered to and that the match be moved to the Saints' nominated alternative venue of stadium:mk, which can hold 21,500 people.
Milton Keynes will therefore join the Aviva Stadium in Dublin in hosting one of the 2010/11 Heineken Cup quarter finals.
At the start of the season the Saints' management explored all available possibilities as to the feasibility of temporarily expanding Franklin's Gardens to meet the criteria; however no option brought the capacity close to 15,000.
Saints' chief executive Allan Robson today said that while it was disappointing that the game had to be moved away from Franklin's Gardens, stadium:mk is the next best option.
"We sought approval from ERC to hold the match at Franklin's Gardens, which is our home and where we belong," Robson said. "However ERC's regulations were introduced to develop the status of the Heineken Cup, which is why they insisted that the game be moved to a stadium with a larger capacity.
"We have known about this regulation for a year-and-a-half, which is why we had to nominate an alternative venue and why we have been citing it as one of the main reasons to expand Franklin's Gardens into an arena that can meet ERC's criteria.
"Although we are disappointed that we cannot hold the match in Northampton we know that stadium:mk can be a great venue for us. It is a lovely stadium with outstanding facilities that is well run and the management there have told us that they want to make it a home from home for both the team and supporters for the day. The extra capacity available to us means that all of our season ticket holders, members and friends and family will be able to see the match, as well as many more supporters who would not otherwise have been able to go.
"However the news will no doubt be disappointing for the wider community of Northampton, especially those businesses that would have enjoyed the financial benefits that come from thousands of visitors coming into the town for a massive cup match at the Gardens.
"The attitude of the Liberal Democrat leadership of Northampton Borough Council towards the proposals of the club and ASDA to develop the stadium and a food store have now had a direct negative impact on the town and upwards of one-and-a-half million pounds will now go to the Milton Keynes economy, not Northampton's."
Director of rugby Jim Mallinder also called on the Saints supporters to turn stadium:mk into a home from home for the day.
"We obviously wanted to play the game at Franklin's Gardens, which is our home and where we have played well over the past few years," Mallinder said. "But we also know that our team can win anywhere and that we can win in Milton Keynes. The support of the fans will be crucial to this. They have been superb so far this season and we will need them to turn stadium:mk into a home from home for the day by packing the stands and getting behind the team."
Ticketing details for the match are currently being finalised and will be announced by the Saints in the next few days.
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