Fitzpatrick calls for fixture review

Warrington Wolves chief executive Karl Fitzpatrick says matches between Super League’s current top five should be prioritised as doubts grow over whether the fixture list will be completed.

Clubs have to play a minimum of 15 matches to be eligible for the top four play-offs under the new win percentage system the competition is using this year.

Fourth placed Catalans are still three matches short of that mark and have had matches with play-off rivals Leeds and Wigan postponed.

The cancellation of Thursday’s game with Hull FC – due to seven new positive tests at the club – then threw fresh doubt on how many matches they will be able to fulfil.

Fitzpatrick believes the schedule should be re-written to ensure that matches between play-off contenders are played as a priority.

He said: “I appreciate that writing the fixture list is very difficult and one of the most unenviable tasks in the game.

“But we need to protect the integrity of the top-four race, and all those teams currently in the top five should play each other the correct amount of times.

“Potentially those bigger games will be more attractive to the broadcaster as well.

“I fully understand that it’s not an ideal situation at the moment, and it may not be as straight-forward as just re-writing the schedule with the logistical and operational challenges.

“The RFL and Super League have done a tremendous job with the difficulties they’ve faced and been very adaptable and nimble, and no doubt this will be on their radar.

“But we need to protect that integrity of the top four.”

Off the field, Fitzpatrick has overseen the opening of a new 1876 restaurant at the Halliwell Jones Stadium and says club have to continue to look at different potential revenue sources to survive in the current climate.

The Wolves consulted with Scottish football giants Rangers ahead of the restaurant’s opening last week, as well as celebrity chef Simon Rimmer, who is an ambassador for the club’s main sponsors Hoover.

Fitzpatrick said: “Our caterers, Elior are also partners with Rangers and I went up there to see how they do it, which was impressive.

“Having the pitch as a backdrop is a unique selling point, and after speaking to supporters about what they wanted we also littered the room with Warrington memorabilia that we had stored away.

“From the idea to launching it was just over two and a half weeks.

“In this situation you need to be able to act quickly, and be creative to find different ways to generate revenue.

“We’ve got a ‘whatever it takes’ mentality.

“We’ve seen that from the players in how they’ve approached this season with the rule changes, and we need to have that adaptability off the field as well.

“The restaurant allows supporters to come back to their spiritual home and have a fantastic meal there.

“The response we’ve had has been tremendous and from the feedback we’ve had it’s been very well received.”

The above content is also available in the regular weekly edition of League Express, on newsstands every Monday in the UK and as a digital download. Click here for more details.