REVEALED: The Super League Grand Final WON’T be held at Old Trafford next month due to Manchester United’s hectic schedule and concerns about the impact of Covid-19
- St James’ Park seems an unlikely option after Newcastle demanded six-figure fee
- A traditional rugby league ground such as Headingley is more likely to be used
- Two Salford players are missing Saturday’s Challenge Cup final due to Covid-19
Sportsmail has learned that talks have been held with Newcastle United about switching the showpiece occasion to St James’ Park, but with the club demanding a six-figure fee to stage the game, a traditional rugby league ground such as Leeds or Hull is more likely to be used.
The RFL have been able to secure Wembley for Saturday’s Challenge Cup final between Leeds and Salford, and when confirming the revised Grand Final date of November 28, Super League hoped it could be staged at Old Trafford, as it has been every year since the inaugural event in 1998.
St Helens defeated Salford Red Devils in last year’s Super League Grand Final at Old Trafford
Manchester United’s fixture pile-up and coronavirus are reasons why it will be staged away
United were willing to reduce their usual fee in the absence of fans, while the Premier League have also been accommodating in giving Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side an away game at Southampton that weekend, but other circumstances have left Super League with little option but to look elsewhere.
With the Champions League group stages having been contracted, United have European ties at Old Trafford in both midweeks either side of the Grand Final, providing little turnaround time to dress the stadium.
Moreover, with positive Covid-19 tests having had a significant impact on the sport, with Salford’s Dan Sarginson and Jack Ormondroyd ruled out of Saturday’s game for example, there is an acknowledgment that flexibility may be required with the date which United were unable to accommodate.
Headingley is one of the more traditional rugby league grounds that could hold the event
Newcastle are understood to have expressed interest having successfully staged Magic Weekend at St James’ Park on a number of occasions, but the cost is likely to prove prohibitive.
Headingley is the obvious alternative, but may be deemed unsuitable if Leeds reach the final, so Hull’s KCOM Stadium is also being considered.