Thunder hit by Magic blow

Newcastle Thunder Managing Director Mick Hogan has said the cancellation of the Magic Weekend has significantly impacted the club’s projected finances for this season.

Magic Weekend was due to take place at St James’ Park at the weekend just gone and Thunder were scheduled to kick off the whole two-day event against Doncaster on Friday night.

“Losing Magic Weekend has impacted us massively,” admitted Hogan, who added that loss of ticket revenue will affect many clubs’ ability to play games behind closed doors.

“The ticket sales income from that was going to be the majority of our income from ticket sales across the whole season. That one game would probably have brought in as much as the ten other home games we were expecting to stage.

“Then we had a hospitality sales programme connected to the event; we would have done well on merchandise and it would have led to increased sponsorship opportunities.

“The chance to play at Magic Weekend was significant for us, not just for the money, but for the exposure we would have got.

“Yes, we get great support from Sky with a broadcast deal that puts millions into the sport, but Rugby League is still an attendance and ticket sales-based sport. We rely heavily on ticket-sales income, and once that is taken away or you start talking about being behind closed doors it does hit you.

“Our players have all been furloughed, which has been a help, but once they return to training, we are liable again for some or all of their wages. So there is an immediate cost to getting back to training and all this has to be factored into the costs of getting the competition starting.

“So playing games behind closed doors wouldn’t just be about the costs involved in making the stadium a safe and secure venue to play in.”