MOVING to a new high class stadium by 2016 is the most exciting prospect for the Cornish Pirates – according to their new chairman.

Ian Connell officially took over from Dicky Evans last Tuesday after the latter stood down from the post he had held for 20 years, overseeing the Penzance-based side become a mainstay in the Greene King IPA Championship.

At present the club’s Mennaye Field home does not meet up to Premiership ground criteria, meaning promoted to English rugby’s top league cannot be achieved.

However, the Pirates could get a new base for the start of the 2016/17 season if plans to build a 10,000 seater stadium in Truro under the Stadium For Cornwall project are completed by then.

The green-light has already been granted for the project although building work has not started yet as developers Inox sort out details for retail outlets which would also be on site, which would need separate planning permission.

Connell said: “We are quite encouraged at the moment that the necessary approval will be granted during the remaining months of this calendar year for the parts of project which still require it.

“By moving to a state-of-the-art stadium in 2016 in a central location of the county, it will help increase attendances and also attract new sponsors too.

“It is of absolute importance that we get to Truro, but we do have our feet firmly on the ground and our main priority is to make sure the club retains it’s position in the Championship and that we do so within budget.

“With the new stadium, we hope it will bring excitement with the facilities as well as the on field performances.”

The Yorkshire businessman, who was vice-chairman until his recent promotion, is heading a seven man board of directors.

He praised the work done by his predecessor over a 20 year tenure in charge, adding the new team will bring many skills to the club.

“We are all indebted to Dicky Evans,” Connell said.

“We find ourselves in the current Championship position we are as a club because of him.

“The new board has people from a wide variety of fields from international businessmen to local Cornishmen who will all offer something different to the Pirates.

“What is important too is that we have a team that has done extremely well with a tightening budget and I feel the squad our director of rugby Ian Davies has put together for the forthcoming season is still a good side full of experience and young Cornish bred talent.

“Premiership rugby is played at a very high calibre.

“The Championship is aslo becoming more competitive with the teams being evenly matched across the league.

“I believe we can keep up with the standard that we have set ourselves in recent years and the league next season.”