Four potential destinations for the Challenge Cup Final if moved away from Wembley Stadium

THE Challenge Cup is set for the biggest tinkering in the history of the competition under new stakeholders IMG from 2024 onwards.

Already, a group stage format has been touted with 24 teams potentially included, but what about a change of destination too?

In 2023, the final was held at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium due to the unavailability of Wembley Stadium. Could a new venue provide a much-needed spark to the competition?

Here are four potential venues for the final if Wembley no longer fits the bill.

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London

The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, as referenced above, already has experience of hosting the Challenge Cup Final following its maiden event in 2022 – and it’s fair to say that the venue was a great success. The capacity at Tottenham is 62,000 – so a lot less than Wembley – however, 51,628 made the journey to the capital to watch the Wigan Warriors narrowly beat Huddersfield Giants. If marketed to its utmost, the Challenge Cup Final could definitely sell-out the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, with the atmosphere generated at the venue one of the best in recent years.

Emirates Stadium, Arsenal

Again, like the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium has a capacity of just over 60,000 making it an ideal potential sell-out venue. It would also ensure that the prestigious competition would be kept in the capital where IMG has already outlined its focus to be going forward. The Emirates is well-known for its excellent transport links as well as flirtation with rugby league in the past – not least the semi-final of the Rugby League World Cup when Samoa broke English hearts in golden point. It would be interesting to see if Arsenal’s home could work.

St James’ Park, Newcastle

With the Magic Weekend in the pipeline to be scrapped, Newcastle is seemingly without a home in rugby league. What if the Challenge Cup could be rejuvenated in the north east instead? It would be interesting to see the reaction amongst the locals to see if they would get behind it, but people absolutely love travelling to the city for the Magic Weekend. Of course, the venue could struggle if demand was large due to the fact its capacity only stands at just over 52,000, but it would certainly ensure a full house and thus a raucous atmosphere at one of the best stadiums in the country.

Etihad Stadium, Manchester

Though the Magic Weekend has found a home in Newcastle, the Etihad Stadium was most peoples’ second favourite as the host for the event. The capacity of the Etihad is just over 53,000, but, again it would ensure a sell-out and therefore a better attraction on television. Unlike Old Trafford, too, the transport links to Manchester City’s ground are superb and the fan park around the stadium is something to behold on game day. Would the appetite for another final in Manchester be there though? Particularly as Old Trafford continues to be the ‘Theatre of Dreams’.