Man Utd in danger of losing Grand Final with fierce rivals ready to snatch Super League showpiece

James Marshment
Super League Grand Final Old Trafford SWpix

Photo: Will Palmer/SWpix

Manchester United’s Old Trafford could find itself replaced as the host of the Grand Final with one of their arch enemies poised to snatch the event from under their noses.

The famous stadium has hosted the event since 1998, with St Helens proving the most successful side, lifting the trophy on a record nine occasions. But having hosted the Grand Final on 24 of the last 25 occasions – the odd year out being when Hull’s MKM Stadium hosted it in 2020 behind closed doors – Old Trafford could now lose the event.

With attendances on the decline and because the event, in some eyes, is in need of a fresh, talks are being held about a potential switch in venues.

Indeed, with Rugby League Commercial based at the Etihad Campus, the event could find itself switching to the home of Manchester City in the years to come.

To that end, discussions are underway about moving the Grand Final and/or the Magic Weekend across Manchester from United to City.

Any switch would not come into affect until 2025, with Old Trafford contracted to stage the event for this season and next.

However, Rhodri Jones, the managing director of Rugby League Commercial, admits discussions are being held.

“It is something we are looking at. Our contract (with Old Trafford) runs to the end of 2024,” Jones said on the BBC 5 Live podcast.

“There are clearly ownership changes afoot there and potentially with the stadium development too. The contract at the moment does talk about stadium developments.”

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Jones continued: “We have a level of comfort that if anything was to happen in the next 18 months that we are safe and covered and can stay there.

“But again, just because we’ve done it for the last 25 years doesn’t mean it’s the right thing for us now.”

Explaining the thought process behind a possible switch, Jones has cited the more modern facilities at the Etihad.

“There is a stadium across the city which you would argue is a bit more modern and a bit more spectator-friendly,” Jones added.

“The fact that we are based at the Etihad Stadium, we have dialogue with them but it’s not just the Grand Final we talk to them about.

“We talk to them about all sorts of things, including a potential Magic Weekend and a potential new event just to see if there is interest for them to host a rugby league event.

“We will see where we go on the Grand Final.”

Fans are certainly used to travelling to Manchester for the annual showpiece, so it would be no hardship traveling to the Etihad as opposed Old Trafford.

And staging the game in the blue half of Manchester could also potentially generate a new level of interest among neutrals considering going to the match. A win-win for the Super League if the decision is made.

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