Grand Final heads to KCOM Stadium, Matchroom sets up SSE Arena residency

The Super League has announced that Hull’s KCOM Stadium will host the first Grand Final played away from Old Trafford, while Matchroom Boxing will take up residency at the SSE Arena, Wembley to stage four major events during the remainder of the year.

The rugby league showpiece will also move from its traditional Saturday staging to be played behind closed doors at the home of Super League team Hull FC on Friday, November 27, with kick off at 8pm. The decision to move the Grand Final away from Old Trafford for the first time is due to Premier League football club Manchester United’s congested fixture schedule at the end of November.

Earlier this week it was revealed that the Super League was weighing up new hosts for its Grand Final after it was decided that Old Trafford would not stage the event for the first time in its history.

Old Trafford has staged the game since the Grand Final was formed in 1998, but COVID-19’s impact on the rugby league and football calendars led to organisers deciding this won’t be the case for the 2020 season.

Although United are in Premier League action at Southampton on November 28, the club has UEFA Champions League home matches scheduled for November 24 and December 2 causing logistical difficulties in also accommodating the Grand Final.

Super League executive chairman Robert Elstone said: “It’s unfortunate that the COVID-affected fixture schedules, of both Manchester United and Super League, mean that despite our best efforts we have had to find an alternative to the only home the Super League Grand Final has ever known.

“After full consideration of a number of options, we’re delighted to confirm that we will be taking the 2020 Betfred Super League Grand Final to the KCOM Stadium in Hull; a city and stadium with a proud rugby league heritage and one worthy of hosting the game’s showpiece event.

“The absence of supporters will bring into focus the challenges, and all too often tragedies, of a year we are all anxious to put behind us. For the first time in our history, the Super League season will reach its thrilling conclusion on a Friday night. We are excited about the new kick-off time. Friday nights have always featured strongly in the rugby league calendar.”

Meanwhile, Matchroom Boxing will take over SSE Arena, Wembley for four events in October, November and December, starting with the highly-anticipated heavyweight fight between Oleksandr Usyk and Derek Chisora on October 31.

On November 14, the London venue will again play host as undisputed lightweight champion Katie Taylor puts her belts on the line against mandatory challenger Miriam Gutierrez as part of a historic women’s world title triple-header.

A November 21 card will be headlined by the rematch between Dillian Whyte and Alexander Povetkin, with details of the final event on December 4 yet to be confirmed.

Eddie Hearn, managing director of Matchroom Sport, said: “It’s so important to be as creative as you can with behind closed doors events and here we have a huge space that we can create a high end viewing experience for the fans at home. Whilst we have made the decision to proceed with these huge nights without a crowd, we are working hard with the SSE Arena, Wembley and the authorities to try and bring fans back safely during this period.”

John Drury, vice-president and general manager of the SSE Arena, Wembley, added: “We’ve seen some massive shows over the years, and circumstances now make these particularly special. Not only are they huge events in their own right, but they’ll be giving vital work to some of our supply chain contractors, which has been almost completely missing since March.”

Promoter Matchroom Boxing last week said it hopes to have fans in attendance at The O2 after the London arena landed hosting rights to the rescheduled heavyweight title fight between Anthony Joshua and Kubrat Pulev. That event will take place on December 12.

Image: Hull FC