IMG’s hint at potentially moving Challenge Cup Final venue

It has found its home in Wembley, there is no doubt about that.

Over 100 years of history, the Challenge Cup Final’s spiritual home is at the iconic Wembley Stadium, but maybe, just maybe, that could be about to end.

In one of the questions listed on the IMG survey, people were asked if the Challenge Cup venue should be moved with a different location each year which suggests that such a plan has been clearly thought about by the new people at the top.

Why wouldn’t it work you may ask?

Well, if going on the evidence of the 2022 Challenge Cup Final is anything to go by, then it would definitely work.

Going to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for the Challenge Cup Final was an incredible experience and one which will be remembered forever for all those that attended.

The less-crowd capacity was imperative to this success, with the showpiece event just seeming to fit right in a smaller venue despite the history of Wembley.

In 2019, the Challenge Cup Final between Warrington Wolves and St Helens – two of the best supported clubs in rugby league – produced an audience of just over 62,000.

In 2022, the final attracted just over 51,000 fans in a 62,000-seater stadium.

Though that still means there were 11,000 empty seats, looking back to 2019 at Wembley, there were almost 30,000 – and you could clearly see on television too.

Of course, the governing body has a deal with Wembley Stadium and that could not be fulfilled in 2022 due to the change in date making it impossible to host both the Challenge Cup Final and the Football League Play-off Finals on the same weekend.

However, the enthusiasm for change was there for all to see – the vast majority of those spectators that flooded Tottenham absolutely loved the occasion.

At present, Wembley just seems a tad stagnant and it has lost its magic. Maybe that is down to the plethora of empty seats that adorns the venue at every year – and which has done for the past decade.

Perhaps IMG – whose job it is to ‘reimagine’ the sport of rugby league – has something up their sleeve to make the Challenge Cup a success again and that could mean taking the final on the road instead of keeping it in one place.

Sure, it would enrage the purists, but it would also be interesting to see if such a concept would work and for how long.

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