Rugby League World Cup buzz could bring £15m boost to Newcastle’s battle to recover from Covid-19

Thousands of followers descending on a buzzing Newcastle for the Rugby League World Cup later this 12 months could give town’s Covid-hit economic system a large £15m boost.

The match will kick off in 150 days’ time, with the opening match between England and Samoa being staged at St James’ Park on October 23.

It is hoped that the five-week World Cup can be among the many first main sporting occasions within the nation held at sell-out stadiums because the pandemic struck final 12 months, if the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown continues on schedule.

As properly as internet hosting the curtain-raiser at St James’, three group stage fixtures are being held on the Newcastle Falcons’ Kingston Park between Scotland, Fiji, and Italy.

The considered safely being again in a packed stadium can be a tantalising prospect for rugby followers, whereas an inflow of supporters also needs to provide a much-needed boost for metropolis bars, eating places, and different companies which have struggled below lockdown restrictions.

City council chief Nick Forbes and Falcons managing director Mick Hogan acquired their arms on the Rugby League World Cup trophy within the metropolis centre on Wednesday and each are optimistic in regards to the match’s possibilities of going forward because it was first envisioned when Newcastle was named among the many host cities in 2019.

Coun Forbes stated: “Major sporting occasions have at all times been an important a part of placing Newcastle on the world stage.

Council chief Nick Forbes and Mick Hogan with the Rugby League World Cup in Newcastle City Centre

“This one has much more significance as a result of it’s the first huge occasion we can be internet hosting because the pandemic. The financial boost and the boost to the profile of town can be so necessary.

“We know there may be going to be a £15m financial affect and the sectors of the economic system that may profit most are those hardest hit by the pandemic – leisure, hospitality, sports activities and occasions.

“By working in the direction of this occasion, we aren’t simply ensuring that Newcastle continues to have a global profile, however additionally it is going to be essential to seeing many of those companies by way of a really troublesome few months.”

The council chief added that he has “little doubt” that the World Cup will go forward whatever the Covid-19 scenario, although the variety of followers ready to attend matches or journey from abroad to be right here stays unsure.

He added: “But each single sport and the opening ceremony itself can be broadcast internationally. There won’t be the identical crowd in the identical stadium, however hundreds of thousands of individuals will see Newcastle beamed all world wide and that publicity is incredible for showcasing all the nice issues our metropolis has to provide.”

Tickets went on sale final 12 months and the match opener at St James’ Park is at present the second greatest vendor, behind solely the ultimate at Old Trafford.

Kingston Park, in the meantime, is claimed to be heading in the right direction to be the primary stadium to promote out its fixtures, with Scotland’s two matches proving particularly fashionable.

Newcastle has hosted a string of main rugby occasions in recent times, together with the 2015 rugby union world cup, the Heineken Cup ultimate in 2019, and rugby league’s Magic Weekend.

Thousands of rugby league followers having fun with the 2018 Magic Weekend at St James’ Park

But preparations for this 12 months’s match have been not like the rest due to the pandemic’s devastating affect.

Mr Hogan, who can also be the pinnacle of North East gross sales for the occasion, stated: “Up till the final 12 months, no match ever has had to put together below these circumstances. There isn’t any guide you possibly can take a look at, it’s uncharted waters.

“But the crew on the Rugby League World Cup has coped extremely properly below very making an attempt circumstances.

“What has been nice to see is that the general public has responded and ticket gross sales throughout the match are extremely sturdy and a number of the strongest are right here within the North East.”

Mr Hogan is hoping that the welcome sight of sell-out stadiums and a buzzing metropolis could “turbocharge” the expansion of rugby league within the metropolis, significantly for the Newcastle Thunder crew.

Asked whether or not he expects groups to be allowed to journey from international locations like Australia to participate within the World Cup as deliberate, he added: “That has not been with out problem. But I’m very assured that by the top of the 12 months, with the best way the vaccine programme goes and international locations opening up, that we’ll see all of the groups right here and at full energy.

“What has been good to see is that sporting groups from loads of the international locations at the moment are beginning to affirm that they are going to be attending different main occasions world wide, so when you begin to see that you just achieve confidence.

“We have 150 days to go, a good distance to go but. Things can change however they will change for the higher as properly, that’s what we hope.”



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