Exclusive: RFL chief Tony Sutton denies 2024 is ‘make or break’ for Magic Weekend

Aaron Bower
Elland Road Leeds United Alamy

Elland Road will host rugby league matches in 2024 - Alamy

Rugby Football League chief executive Tony Sutton has denied suggestions that 2024 could be a make or break year for the future of Magic Weekend, saying he believes the switch to Elland Road is ‘another step’ on the journey of the event.

With St James’ Park, perceived by many to be the most popular and successful host venue in the history of Magic Weekend, unavailable next year due to the switch to August for the event, the RFL and RL Commercial ultimately settled on a deal to take Magic to Elland Road in Leeds.

However, that was a decision that was met with derision by many.

IMG were believed to be against Magic Weekend continuing at all next year as part of their attempts to revamp rugby league’s calendar.

However, it remained in the plans after opposition from clubs, and Sutton told Love Rugby League he thinks the event still has a place in the game.

“I don’t think it’s a make or break year for the event,” he said.

“It’s more like another step on the journey of Magic Weekend, and it’s had plenty of steps along its journey.

“Magic has been around a little while now and it’s been very successful in some places – I was lucky to be at the first, which was fantastic.

“Like I say, it’s been around a little bit and it’ll be an interesting thing watching it move to a new stadium – but I’m not sure it’s a make or break year for it. I don’t think that’s a fair description.”

Elland Road could deliver ‘successful’ Magic Weekend, says RFL chief Tony Sutton

Sutton also stressed that he felt Elland Road could deliver a successful event despite such strong criticism from many.

“I know there were some real challenges surrounding the availability of Newcastle and when I think of Elland Road, it’s the scene of one of the best games I’ve ever seen: the World Cup semi-final last year between Australia and New Zealand,” he said.

“The fact is that Newcastle wasn’t available but I think Elland Road as a venue and a stadium, and an experience, can deliver a successful event. The reaction from everyone else… That isn’t for me to comment on.”

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