The Super League rugby league competition is weighing up new hosts for its Grand Final after it was decided that Old Trafford will not stage the event for the first time in its history.
The home stadium of Premier League football club Manchester United has staged the game since the Grand Final was formed in 1998, but COVID-19’s impact on the rugby league and football calendars has led to organisers deciding this won’t be the case for the 2020 season.
The 2020 Super League season restarted back in August, initially at the neutral venues of Emerald Headingley Stadium and Totally Wicked Stadium, the homes of Leeds Rhinos and St Helens. The suspension of the season has led to the Grand Final being pushed back from its traditional mid-October slot to a provisional date of November 28.
Although United are in Premier League action at Southampton on that day, the club has UEFA Champions League home matches scheduled for November 24 and December 2 causing logistical difficulties in also accommodating the Grand Final.
The Press Association news agency said Super League has formed a working party to secure a new venue, with a spokesman stating: “We are working through the different options.”
The BBC reports venues in the north of England are being prioritised, with potential options being Emerald Headingley, Huddersfield Giants’ John Smith’s Stadium and Hull FC’s KCOM Stadium. Football grounds such as Leeds United’s Elland Road and Bolton Wanderers’ University of Bolton Stadium are also said to be in the mix.
With fans unlikely to be able to attend, organisers said the Grand Final needs to “look good on TV for the big occasion, as well as making financial sense”.