Wigan Warriors chairman Ian Lenagan has revealed that the club were aware of a potential fixture problem with their DW Stadium ground back in September.
It was revealed earlier this week that the Warriors have had to bring their game against Salford forward 24 hours, due to a Wigan Athletic game being played on the Saturday on the same pitch.
Lenagan accepts it would have been “crazy” to play the Salford game on the Friday and the Wigan Athletic match less than 24 hours later, but says they raised the issue with the RFL back before the new fixtures were released.
“The source of the problem is fixturing at the beginning of the year,” he told the club’s official website.
“We identified in September, before the fixtures were issued, that there would be a problem with this game and a number of other games, because we have Football League fixtures to contend with and we and Wigan Athletic always attempt to avoid clashes. We got five out of seven fixture changes we asked for, but the RFL failed to sort the other two out – so we’ve got the Easter Monday problem which we’ve had for a while, and the Salford problem on a Friday night.
“We were supposed to play on the Friday night before an important Wigan Athletic game the following day. We accept that with the state of the pitch in February, us playing on Friday and them playing on Saturday is crazy. That’s why we identified the problem back in September; we have anticipated the problem six months ago and sought to avoid it.”
Lenagan also insisted that the Warriors’ relationship with Wigan Athletic is healthy and in good shape.
“Our relationship with Wigan Athletic, particularly since David Sharpe took over as chairman, is excellent. It’s getting better by the week and we don’t get told to do things; we have discussions about what is sensible and reasonable. It’s a difficult problem and I’m not blaming the RFL for not being able to solve it.
“It’s made complicated by the Thursday night fixtures, which can cause clashes due to the four-day turnaround issue. The second thing that has complicated things is with where the World Club Challenge is, there’s normally an empty fixture.
“One would not have expected Salford to have played on this weekend, but because of the fact that the bottom four clubs in Super League would come into the Challenge Cup a round earlier, it means that they would have to postpone their Super League fixtures, which causes even more disruption in the calendar.”