Toronto Wolfpack have spoken with several Championship clubs about the possibility of playing their home games in England when the Super League season restarts, with Chairman Bob Hunter warning of a “depressing” financial outlook for the club.
The Wolfpack are almost certain to be unable to travel to and from Canada as frequently as normal when the season restarts later this summer, and Hunter has conceded to League Express that they are now making provisions to be permanently based in England.
“We’ve looked at numerous sites,” he said.
“We have a couple of Championship venues that have expressed interest in co-hosting us and there’s even the possibility we could play in our opponents’ stadiums as the home team, though I’m not sure we’d want to do that from a competitive perspective.
“We’re not going to make any final decision until we get the go-ahead, but we’ve a few options out there. The possibility of flying teams out to Canada to play in empty stadiums doesn’t really work for us, though.”
The Wolfpack have the fallback of David Argyle’s millions to cover any financial shortfall, but Hunter has warned of a gloomy outlook for the club the longer they are unable to play games in Canada, with the loss of revenue combined with a potential spectator drop-off.
“It’s depressing to put it mildly,” he said.
“We’re participating as a full member of Super League without the TV distribution, so our gate revenues are critical for us. Every home game we have to play in the UK has a significant impact on our bottom line.
“With the addition of Sonny Bill Williams and Kallum Watkins, we were anticipating we would sell out all eleven home games. We won’t get the same numbers in England.”
Hunter also admitted how a prolonged absence from Canada would impact on the club’s burgeoning supporter base.
He said: “We made some very strong inroads last year with the Grand Final and then signing Sonny, and we were really starting to make some serious noise in the city among some huge professional sports franchises. This is going to set us back.
“I do think it will make it difficult. We have so many people that are trialling us and once they do, the reaction has been really good. So it’s a matter of keeping that momentum amongst our new fans. I’m not too worried about 4,000 hardcore fans – it’s the ones who are new to our game we’re going to have to work so hard to keep interested without games in Canada.”