Challenge Cup Final date set to be moved forward two months after poor attendance at 2018 showpiece event
- Rugby league bosses want to move Challenge Cup Final after low crowd
- The 2018 final saw an attendance of just 50,672 as Catalans lifted the trophy
- They overcame Warrington Wolves 20-14 to be first non-English side to win it
Rugby league officials are in talks to move the Challenge Cup Final forwards by two months, Sportsmail has learned.
The sport’s showcase fixture attracted a disappointing crowd of just 50,672 on Saturday as Catalans Dragons made history by defeating Warrington Wolves 20-14 to become the first non-English side to lift the famous trophy.
Such a poor attendance, and growing fears that the fixture is being neglected, has sparked bosses into action.
The date of the Challenge Cup Final may be moved forwards after low turnout on Saturday
While it is too late to change the date for next year’s final, 2020 and beyond could see the fixture played in June, with a source saying that talks are in ‘the initial stages’.
The presence of Perpignon-based Catalans in the final impacted on the gate, which was the lowest for a Wembley final since 1937, but was far from the only factor.
Travel chaos and the fact the game was played on a Bank Holiday weekend, are also thought to have made an impact.
Catalans Dragons beat Warrington Wolves 20-14 to become first non-English side to win
Another issue is a lack of distance between the Challenge Cup Final and October’s Super League Grand Final, held at Old Trafford, which attracts big numbers.
‘There is an acknowledgement that something needs to be done,’ an insider said.
‘The crowd on Saturday was disappointing, as it was last year. In the build-up to the game it was recognised that a number of options, including moving the game forwards, needed to be examined.
‘The talks are in the early stages – and next year is too soon to move – but from 2020 we could have all the fixtures played in May and June with the final in June.’
A venue change had been mooted but the Rugby Football League, who declined to comment, is keen to keep the fixture at Wembley, with whom an agreement is in place until 2027.
The idea was mooted after concerns over the crowd size of just 50,672 at Wembley Stadium