Rugby Football League (RFL) chief executive Nigel Wood has hinted that Manchester’s Etihad Stadium could become the long-term home of the Super League’s Magic Weekend after record-breaking attendance figures for this year’s event.
The Magic Weekend sees an entire round of Super League fixtures played at one venue and has previously taken to Cardiff and Edinburgh. This year marked the first time the event had been staged in Manchester and with a record aggregate crowd of 63,716, Wood stated that a three-year deal is already on the table to continue at the home of Barclays Premier League champion Manchester City.
“When we commenced negotiations with both Manchester City and the City of Manchester Council, there was an intention towards striking a three-year deal,” he told the League’s official website, Therfl.co.uk. “But we both thought it was appropriate to do it once and review it and see if everybody was as confident about its prospects of succeeding here as we all were and that is the intention. The debrief will take place in the early part of next month when we’ll be sitting down with relevant parties to see whether this can become a fixture in the calendar for the foreseeable future. We’ve not been actively touting the event around. We went to the Etihad in good faith to see if we can build a long-term relationship with Manchester.”
The Magic Weekend first commenced in 2007 and Wood believes it has now established its place in the rugby league calendar. “The debate about whether Magic has a place in the calendar has come and gone,” he added. “It’s been firmly established as a very popular event. We will always consult with the clubs about when and where but as an event it’s been safely delivered.”
An extended deal with the Etihad Stadium would see Manchester established as one of the centrepieces of British rugby league. Old Trafford, home of Manchester United, is the traditional venue of the Super League’s Grand Final.
Etihad Stadium experience just magic for RFL