Fans “in tears” over missing Toronto trip

Featherstone GM Davide Longo says fans had tears in their eyes because they couldn’t afford the trip to Toronto, amidst calls for the Grand Final to be held at a neutral venue.

The fifth-placed Rovers travel to the Lamport Stadium for a place in Super League on Saturday night.

It’s the first time in the 18 years – either side of the Super 8s era – that the second tier final has not been held at a neutral ground.

The last, in 2014 when Featherstone lost to Leigh, was held at Headingley, which along with Widnes’ Halton Stadium and Warrington’s Halliwell Jones Stadium have hosted the event on numerous occasions since the first in 1998.

Longo said: “It should be purely from a marketing point of view. If it was a neutral venue, you could have been selling the event three months ago.

“I saw people that have been fans of this club for a long, long time that literally had tears in their eyes on Sunday in Toulouse because they can’t afford to go to Toronto.

“We’re a fan-driven sport and we should try to make it as accessible as possible for all people, including any neutral fan that wants to go.

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“I’ve had that many messages – dare I say it from Castleford and Wakefield fans, everybody has got behind Featherstone Rovers and I’m almost certain, if it had been at a neutral venue this week it would be really well attended game.

“I spoke to (Toronto owner) David Argyle last night and he says they are going to make it like a mini SuperBowl.

“They got over 9,000 for Toulouse and we’re looking at taking 300 or 400 fans so, if we can it just over 10,000, it will be brilliant.”

Featherstone are expecting to take 400 fans to Canada, with a sell-out crowd around 10,000 expected.

Rovers have won three successive away games to reach the Grand Final, including a win over Toulouse in France.

They lost the Grand Final in 2010, 2012 and 2014, as well as winning it in 2011. On none of those occasions was promotion at stake.

The closest they have come to promotion to Super League was in 1998, when they were beaten by Wakefield in the inaugural First Division Grand Final.

Toronto were 80 minutes from Super League last season, in their first season in the Championship, going down 4-2 to London Broncos in the Million Pound Game.

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