Earlier this week it was confirmed that Magic Weekend would indeed be finding a new home for 2024, moving from St James Park in Newcastle to Elland Road in Leeds, a decision that has led to widescale disapproval from rugby league fans.
The event had been held in Newcastle since 2015 with great success on attendances and on fan experience, however the decision has been made to move the event further into the calendar.
As such that’s left Newcastle United with a situation whereby they couldn’t host the event given that the Premier League season is underway by the weekend of August 17th and 18th, the new date for Super League’s major event.
Instead Leeds United have made Elland Road, a ground with plenty of ties to rugby league, available and that’s confirmed as the venue for 2024. That’s a decision that has fallen foul with plenty of fans.
Many took to social media to convey their dismay with one rhyming fan labelling the decision as “tragic not magic”, whilst others put forward the view that the event would die off as a result.
Of course IMG has previously advised for the event to be cancelled, the advisors to the RFL intending to put a stop to loop fixtures, however that was a decision that was U=turned on.
Instead Magic was pushed further into the season courtesy of the Challenge Cup being brought forward, hence the difficult stadium situation that has forced the event towards Elland Road.
One senior NRL journalist has now taken to X, formerly Twitter, to express confusion at why Super League fans were quite so unhappy with the decision.
Brad Walter who currently writes for NRL.com but has previously held roles with the Sydney Morning Herald and International Rugby League posted on the social media platform, arguing that Leeds was the perfect city for the event.
Posting on X, Walter said: “My timeline is full of criticism of Super League Magic Round being at Elland Rd but the NRL version is in Brisbane. Leeds is England’s best rugby league city so the philosophy is obviously to fish where the fish are.”
My timeline is full of criticism of Super League Magic Round being at Elland Rd but the NRL version is in Brisbane. Leeds is England’s best rugby league city so the philosophy is obviously to fish where the fish are.
— Brad Walter (@BradWalterSport) November 22, 2023
Walter makes the valid point that Leeds is a huge rugby league city and therefore taking the marquee mid-season event there makes sense, however fans took aim at him with plenty even questioning the integrity of a man who has had 25 years in the sport.
One fan surmised: “Been to both Suncorp and Elland Road. One is adjacent to Caxton Street with superb seating, the other adjacent to one pub and a fish and chip shop, with the worst seats I have sat in in a sporting stadium. However, you probably never had the pleasure of sitting in the awful stands.”
Others echoed the belief that the stadium was outdated and with little to offer by way of entertainment or access, something St James was brilliant for being in the city centre.
“Stadium in Leeds is poor. You can’t sit there all day. It’s in the middle of nowhere so fan experience will be poor,” whilst another added in shock: “Now I know you didn’t just compare Suncorp to Elland Road.”
One fan was more brutal: “Are you for real?. Absolute nonsense..”
Despite the protestation of fans it is official though, Elland Road will host Magic Weekend in Round 22 of the 2024 season, only time will tell if it’s a success or not.