It’s known as the ‘Theatre of Dreams’, but could rugby league ever drift away from Old Trafford to host the Super League Grand Final?
Since the Grand Final was brought in for the 1998 Super League season – for the first two years of the summer game, there was no Grand Final – Old Trafford has held the showpiece event, but in recent years it seems to have lost some of its magic.
The frill of empty seats splattered around the home of Manchester United is not a good look on television, particularly for the event which is classed as the pinnacle of Super League.
The excitement for a new venue for the Challenge Cup Final in 2022 was there for all to see as the RFL took advantage of the new state-of-the art complex at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Emblazoned on television with more or less a full stadium, Tottenham did the competition proud and it would be interesting to see if the Grand Final could follow the suit if a potential new venue was signed off.
That being said, where would the sport possibly take the final?
Taking it to neighbours Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium would be a possibility, but the capacity of 55,000 would probably not be enough considering the fact that only three Grand Finals since its inception has yielded less than 55,000 – and the 2021 final between the Catalans Dragons and St Helens had obvious mitigating factors, not least a country from France.
Again, a final at Tottenham would be interesting, but with the football season in full flow by September and October, that would be almost impossible as well as the fact that the Grand Final has been traditionally held in the north with the Challenge Cup a usual southern occasion.
Would Newcastle United’s St James’ Park be viable? The only trouble then though is the Magic Weekend would have to be moved elsewhere.
Of course, there’s always the age old saying that if it isn’t broke why fix it, but the attendance at the Grand Final has been on a steady decline for the past five years.
Is it time for a change? Let us know in the comments.