This week’s column will not be everyone’s cup of tea – but remember it’s just an opinion piece before you jump down my throat!
The annual event of Magic Weekend took place at Anfield for the first time last week, drawing in a crowd of 56,869 people over the two days.
The attendance figure was down 7,450 on the year before, when the event was staged at Newcastle United’s St James’ Park.
And Magic crowds declined in the final two of the four years it was hosted in the North East.
Has the weekend lost it’s Magic? Not necessarily. If anything, the talent on show has got better since the concept was brought into fruition back in 2007.
The on-field product of Super League is brilliant. The league table is tighter than ever before and the players are a real credit to our sport, on and off the field.
However, Magic was initially brought into the game to attract wider, newer audiences but it has failed to do so.
When the weekend was hosted in Newcastle, how many new fans actually attended? The only Geordie accents I heard were the ones of stewards.
And the same goes for Liverpool. It’s a great weekend and there is a party atmosphere amongst supporters – but it’s become a tad dull in recent years.
Three games is too much to consume in one day for a fan. Us members of the media sit through six games over the weekend, but how many fans sit through 240 minutes of action? Let me guess – not many. It’s hard for anyone to remain seated for that long, no matter how entertaining the matches are.
So in light of this, let’s have more double headers instead!
I was lucky enough to be at the Nou Camp a couple of weeks ago for the historic rugby league clash between Catalans and Wigan.
I couldn’t help but think at the time that it would be great having another game on just before it, a curtain-raiser in effect. Imagine if Warrington had played St Helens in the game before it? There could have been over 60,000 in the stadium just for them two games.
I’m not saying the venues have to be as glamorous as the Nou Camp either. The Challenge Cup semi-final double header at the University of Bolton Stadium last year worked a treat – and because the ground isn’t enormous, it looked great on TV.
The Championship Summer Bash is held at the 17,000+ capacity Bloomfield Road, so why not have a Super League double header there at some point of the season as well? Maybe Castleford v Wakefield and Wigan v London? And then swap teams at different double header events.
Take my ideas with a pinch of salt but I just think having a couple of double header events throughout the year would be far more beneficial for the game instead of a stand alone Magic Weekend.
Our great players would be watched by more people, there would be more major events for the sport, more of the smaller clubs would gain greater exposure and you could take the events to more locations – both heartland and expansion areas.
Food for thought and all that…