RUGBY LEAGUE

Challenging Cup final shows rugby league there is life outside Wembley

There is no need to visit Wembley to appreciate the rugby league's long and rich past at the stadium that is home to the national team. A statue that immortalizes five of the greatest players such as Eric Ashton, Billy Boston, Martin Offiah, Alex Murphy and Gus Risman - has pride of its place on the outside of the stadium however, in a constantly changing sports landscape, the mere fact of history will not be enough to ensure the long-term viability of the game.


It was never more apparent for the game than Saturday on the day it was announced that the Challenge Cup final took in new locations across the capital at Tottenham. For many traditionalists, taking the final of the cup to a different venue than Wembley is considered a infraction, equivalent to soccer abdicating an era and a tradition of which the sport is proud. However, as Liam Farrell and Thomas Leuluai lifted the cup in support of Wigan It was difficult not to imagine an alternative world post-Wembley for the sport of rugby.


Following it was revealed that Rugby Football League was forced to change the date of its final this year due to conflicts between this year's EFL playoffs, early announcements of Tottenham being the hosts look promising. The Guardian has been informed that by the Premier League club was exceptional to work with at all levels of hosting the event. They have kept the door open to return in the near future however it has was confirmed by the league that it will be returning to Wembley in the coming year.


However, for more than one motive, Wembley is not the final destination for rugby league the way it was a generation ago. The attendance has been down at the stadium of national significance for a couple of decades, and the most recent attendance exceeding 70,000 in the year 2016. This was also the last year when the Club Wembley total of around 10,000 seats was added to the attendance figures and since the return back to Wembley in 2007, crowd numbers have been slightly skewed.


The main focus of football has been to have Cup finals, which is the most important day of the calendar and in London. It is true that the Challenge Cup final belongs in the capital, which allows supporters to come from the north, and enjoy a an unforgettable day every year, regardless of who they choose to support. But , unlike twenty or thirty years ago the options are available that the RFL to think about long-term as demonstrated by the spectacle that took place at Tottenham this weekend.


Wembley is not the only modern venue in London that can host an important final, and with the numbers of the crowd it is likely that a venue like Tottenham is more appropriate. Add in Tottenham's Emirates Stadium, which will be hosting the World Cup semi-final this autumn and you've got venues that are not just better suited for the cup final.


The idea that there's life beyond Wembley is also apparent on this year's World Cup schedule this year. In the past an at-home World Cup in England without an Wembley match was unimaginable. The 2013 World Cup featured the semi-finals at Wembley, as well as in 1995, the original Wembley was the venue for the final however this year, the stadium has been left out. The London alternative is, as stated that of the Emirates Stadium for the men's semi-finals. The final is in Old Trafford.


With all the financial considerations for supporters, there's no reason to be ashamed of a football leagues choosing a stadium just a little larger than Wembley and hoping to take it up.

A situation in which demand exceeds supply could result in an impact positive, as could the reality that tickets are very accessible to watch this year's World Cup this year - adults can see the semi-finals at the Emirates Stadium for as little as PS20 and create the conditions for a change in Challenge Cup prices, with tickets to watch the Final on the Saturday as up to PS70.


It is crucial to remember that, in the near term it is unlikely to change in the near future as the sport has an agreement with Wembley which ensures that the final takes place there until at the very least 2027. It's just five years away, and events like Saturday could stimulate the mind to contemplate an updated future for one of the most important events on the calendar will look like.


In contrast to the past the time when Wembley was the most coveted venue for the game of rugby There are a myriad of factors within and outside this sport that indicate that a change is now not unthinkable.


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