Super League Magic Weekend postponed because of coronavirus

Super League’s Magic Weekend event, scheduled for 23-24 May at Newcastle United’s St James’ Park, has been postponed because of the ongoing coronavirus lockdown.

The league still hopes to revive the event once the game returns to action and “all options are being considered”.

At present, there is no return-to-play date for rugby league.

“It’s regrettable that Super League has had to make this decision,” said chief executive Robert Elstone.

“Our fans will be disappointed because they were all looking forward to returning to Newcastle; however, Magic is still firmly in our plans for 2020, with St James’ Park, at a later date, one of the options being considered.”

Magic Weekend has become one of rugby league’s major events in the calendar, aimed at spreading the audience of the sport to new territories – a full round of meaningful league fixtures ‘on the road’.

Since its first incarnation at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium, the event has been played at Edinburgh’s Murrayfield, Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium and, last year, Anfield in Liverpool.

The most successful stint for the competition has been at Newcastle, with a record cumulative crowd over the two days of 68,276 in 2016, and 40,000-plus for a day crowd the previous year.

Super League says tickets purchased for Magic Weekend will be transferable to a later date at St James’ Park, or an alternative venue depending on when the season restarts.

Analysis

Dave Woods, BBC rugby league correspondent

Clubs are determined to keep the concept on the table until the outcome of the current crisis and future implications for mass gatherings become clearer.

They still want to stage the event in Newcastle. But they could move it to a different venue, such as Headingley in Leeds, if necessary.

The Magic Weekend has become an annual festival for rugby league fans, but the event is also part of the TV contract with Sky TV, giving the broadcaster six games in two days.

For both those reasons, the clubs will be anxious to keep it in any revised calendar.

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