UpFront: Tottenham passes the test as a Challenge Cup final venue

Okay, so it’s not Wembley with all its history, prestige and Challenge Cup associations.

But the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium was still an impressive stage for one of the biggest club matches on the European Rugby League calendar.

We must admit that it was a good venue for the Betfred Challenge Cup Final, given that Wembley was unavailable at the end of May because of the football play-offs.

And as well as those of Huddersfield and Wigan, it was good to see plenty of supporters of 1895 Cup finalists Featherstone and Leigh among the thousands treading new ground, at least as far as our game is concerned.

In our Readers’ Poll, we ask whether we should return to Tottenham, or whether 2022 will be a complete one-off.

The 1895 Cup has proved itself to be a very worthwhile competition, with the final providing a tasty appetiser for the main event for the last two years.

And rather than being contested by just a handful of clubs who make progress in the Challenge Cup, it would be great to see the competition return to the scale it enjoyed in its inaugural year of 2019, with Sheffield coach Mark Aston testifying to the positive knock-on effect it had on that club.

With the cups done and dusted – and League Express sends its congratulations to respective winners Wigan and Leigh, the spotlight is firmly back on Super League.

The Grand Final is on Saturday, September 24 – earlier in the year than last season because of the World Cup, which starts three weeks later.

And it’s interesting to note that Manchester United have brought in architects Populous, who designed the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, to draw up plans for the redevelopment of Old Trafford, which as well as the Super League showpiece will host the World Cup final on Saturday, November 19.

Populous and management consultants Legends International are to work together with the aim of increasing the famous stadium’s capacity.

Both companies worked on Tottenham’s 62,850-seater home, which opened in 2019. Old Trafford’s current crowd ceiling is 74,000.

A statement on the Manchester United website referred to “developing options for Old Trafford and studying their feasibility, with the aim of significantly enhancing the fan experience. Fans will be at the heart of the process.”

It has been reported that United are considering several options for redevelopment, including demolishing the current stadium and building a replacement, as Tottenham did with their old White Hart Lane home.

Meanwhile four miles to the West of Old Trafford lies the AJ Bell Stadium, which in encouraging news for supporters of Salford Red Devils, has become an ownership target for local businessman Sebastian Gerrard, who is also said to be interested in investing in the club, who had looked set to move to Moor Lane, the smaller home of Salford City Football Club.

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