Grounds for discussion

Rugby league stadiums have often been the cause of controversy, and never more so than this week. Wigan Warriors found themselves booted off the JJB Stadium while Wakefield Trinity Wildcats saw their plans for a new home go up in smoke. nnThe Warriors will have to take their engage Super League play-off game to Widnes Vikings’ Stobart Stadium Halton after JJB Stadium owner Dave Whelan decided they couldn’t play there. The reason is that Wigan Athletic are at home to Sunderland the following day.nnApparently the FA saw no problems with the rugby league game going ahead, so the decision was Whelan’s, who wanted to protect the fragile turf which the Warriors would ruin ahead of Atheltic’s game the following afternoon. nnAlthough, seeing as Wigan asked the RFL if they could play on Thursday night a two-day gap must have been acceptable to Whelan. The RFL refused and Wigan have to play elsewhere, but surely there was a simpler solution: Wigan Athletic to play their game on Sunday. That this hasn’t been done points clearly to the fact that Wigan Warriors are the junior partners in this groundshare.nnAll this has been frustrating to the Wigan club and their supporters, but it also points to a long-term problem. What happens if this situation arises again? The Warriors have already had to rearrange games against Huddersfield and Whitehaven and start the season with a run of away fixtures; how long before they have to find a new home?nnA new home is also on the minds of Wakefield after their plans were found to be untenable. Apparently the project can’t be delivered at a budget of £60m and won’t be finished until after the next round of Super League license applications. That would create the unfortunate situation of Wakefield applying using the same stadium plans twice in three years.nnThe club is still looking for a solution, but one rumour suggests the council want the Wildcats to go into a groundshare with Castleford Tigers. Both clubs come under the same local authority, which only wants to build one new stadium, and as the Tigers’ plans are further along their stadium will go ahead. There might not be a grain of truth in that, but it will cause controversy.nnThe controversy surrounding rugby league stadiums will not go away. What of Widnes, whose ground was dismissed as merely “appropriate” by the RFL but is now hosting a Super League play-off? What of Salford, whose new ground is also under threat? And what of Celtic, whose current home is a good deal worse than Wakefield, Castleford and Salford? We’ll just have to wait and see.nnKeep Your Eye On Rugby League

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.