Super League chief eyes Anfield return after encouraging Magic weekend

Thumbs up from Tommy Makinson at Anfield. Picture: SWPix
Thumbs up from Tommy Makinson at Anfield. Picture: SWPix
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Anfield has put itself in pole position to retain Super League's Magic Weekend for 2020, according to chief executive Robert Elstone.


Super League bosses gambled on moving the annual two-day event from Newcastle, which set the crowd record during the four years it was held at St James' Park, to new territory in Liverpool, but Elstone says he was delighted with the outcome.

The aggregate attendance of 56,869 is below the 64,319 that watched the 2018 event in Newcastle but above the record low of 52,043 at Murrayfeld in 2010.

"I'm really pleased with it in many ways," Elstone told Press Association Sport. "Attendances have been good, we've seen some great rugby league and I'm sure the players have been thrilled about running out at Anfield.

"More importantly, I think the fans have had a great time.

"We always felt confident that this stadium was special and I maintain this city has a lot to offer so I'm really hoping fans will reflect positively on Magic."

Organisers were bracing themselves for a sub-50,000 turn-out following sluggish ticket sales but were thrilled by a late rush, led by the two nearest Super League clubs, St Helens and Warrington, who are first and second in the table.

"It was terrific in the final few days to see Warrington and St Helens going toe to toe to see who would top the leaderboard," Elstone said.

"We saw the rugby league family click in, groups started to do really well and hospitality hit budget so overall I think it was a last week surge that got us to where we are."

The Magic Weekend has also been held in Cardiff, Manchester and Edinburgh since its launch in 2007 and London has been touted as a potential future venue.

Elstone has also spoken about taking the event overseas following the Super League record crowd of 31,555 for Catalans Dragons' fixture with Wigan in Barcelona nine days ago and officials have not ruled out a return to Newcastle.

But Elstone believes Liverpool has built a strong case for retention and is hoping to make an announcement in good time after the decision to move to Anfield was made only six months ago.

"I think we'd look very favourably on this experience," Elstone said. "I think it's right that we have a proper debrief on it and consider other options but one of the over-arching things is that we build some continuity and some resonance with a particular venue.

"Liverpool Football Club have been a great partner and they're keen to have us back next year.

"There's lots of scope to keep growing at Liverpool and build on what we've achieved here so that's probably where we're going to be.

"One of the real drivers around moving an event like this is that it has a shelf life, it does get a little bit stale and therefore needs a refresh.

"This was a refresh button and clearly after one season it isn't likely to be going stale so that is something we would want to consider.

"But we'll do that in good time. The more notice we can give allows the fans to plan so we will resolve to come out earlier and confirm the venue to give fans that certainty for 2020."