Why has Rugby League never taken off in Liverpool?

It’s a city where we have recently held Magic Weekend, the final of the Four Nations and the second test against New Zealand. But why has rugby league never taken off in Liverpool?

Liverpool is first and foremost a football city. It is divided into the red half, and the blue half with no middle ground.

Liverpool Stanley

Liverpool Stanley ended up finishing as Prescot Panthers, and played out of Valerie Park Stadium. Credit: Gb100000 (Wikimedia Commons) licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. 

There had been a professional side in Liverpool, called Liverpool Stanley. They had quite the history over the years.

They started out as Wigan Highfield in 1880, but went under the radar following the split in 1895, but reformed in 1902.

In 1933, the side then relocated to London to become London Highfield. However, due to the costs of running the club in the capital, they relocated north after a year.

They moved to the Stanley Greyhound Stadium in Liverpool, and became known as Liverpool Stanley henceforth. The Liverpool side won the Lancashire League in 1936.

Stanley were at their stadium for 16 years, before relocating to Mill Yard in Knotty Ash. Here, they became known as Liverpool City.

Another 17 years passed, and they relocated to Huyton, and became known as Huyton RLFC. However, their stadium there was not in the best of conditions and was eventually deemed unsafe in 1985.

In 1985, the club re-adopted the Highfield name as they relocated to Runcorn before moving back to Knowlsey with Prescot in 1994.

The club was eventually wound up in 1996.

Since then, there have been no representatives from Liverpool in the professional leagues. Liverpool Lions, who play out of Croxteth, are currently the only open age amateur side in the city. They are currently working their way back towards the North West Mens League.

Hosting events in Liverpool

Anfield has hosted several rugby league events since the new Main Stand was opened. Credit: Richard Long/News Images

In 2016, the new expanded Main Stand opened at Anfield Stadium, home of Liverpool Football Club. Since then, three large rugby league events have been held there.

Later that year, the stadium hosted the final of the Four Nations between Australia and New Zealand. It saw an attendance of just over 40,000.

Next was the second test between England and New Zealand in 2018. This one was not as well attended as just over 26,000 people attended.

Finally, it hosted the 2019 Magic Weekend event. With an aggregate attendance of 56,869, it was the worst attendance since the 2010 event in Edinburgh.

In the past, Marwan Koukash, the former Salford owner has talked about starting a club in Liverpool, although this hasn’t materialised just yet.

Why has there been no success since Stanley?

One possible reason could be the amount of clubs nearby. In a close radius to Liverpool, there are clubs in Widnes, St Helens, Warrington and Wigan.

Although it could just boil down to the simple fact, that there is not enough interest in the city for the rugby league team. There are fans from the area, but they mainly go to one of the clubs on the outskirts.

However, if significant investment was made in the sport in Liverpool, then something might happen.

Ultimately, success gets bums on seats and if there isn’t a successful team, then the interest will not be there. Its as simple as that.

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Richard ellis
Richard ellis
1 month ago

Liverpool lions are based in fazakerley