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Editor's Pick

Magic Round mistake NRL must not make

The National Rugby League has become a billion dollar business and with ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys declaring there could be multiple Magic Rounds in the future, I found myself asking, why?

Is there any need for a second or third weekend where all eight games are played at the one venue? Would it create that same festival atmosphere and draw in the huge crowds in other parts of Australia like Sydney, Melbourne or Perth?

In my view, it won’t.

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After another successful weekend in Brisbane, it’s clear the concept works well at Suncorp Stadium, and as the old saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

The Queenslanders love their footy and will fill the stands, it’s also a chance for interstate footy fans to make it a weekend away with their family or their friends. The hotels are booked out, the bars are pumping and the restaurants are bursting at the seams.

Let’s be real, that won’t happen in Sydney.

As a Sydneysider, I just don’t think we’d fill the new Football Stadium for three days because we’ve proven time and time again, sporting fans in the Harbour City refuse to attend major events – we’re spoiled for choice with nine clubs and in some cases, we’re lazy.

Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.

We’d much rather sit at home and watch it on TV because it’s an effort getting into the city or Sydney Olympic Park via public transport, we’ve got better things to do than wait in a carpark for an hour after a game and it’s too expensive to take the family to the footy.

Interest rates are rising which is causing financial stress on families with a mortgage and they can’t afford to spend $139 for a family pass to Magic Round. Throw in a bucket of chips and a drink for the kids, it becomes an expensive exercise for fans of a blue-collar game.

I agree with V’landys who insists the supporters want comfort and a better experience, but at the same time it needs to be affordable.

I fully support the NSW government’s investment in the new SFS because the infrastructure at Moore Park needed an upgrade and I have no doubt the bureaucrats will make their money back and then some with a whole range of events, including concerts. Yes, it’ll be full when the stadium is officially opened in September when the Roosters tackle South Sydney, but if you think it’ll reach capacity on a weekly basis, you’re kidding yourself.

If you want to talk about the “gameday experience” at NRL games, let’s discuss what the fans are getting and whether it really is value for money. The supporters pay their entry fee to watch the footy, but they’re often forced to sit in the stands twiddling their thumbs watching the referees warm up, they’re stuck listening to a ground announcer who’s paid to rattle off sponsor credits and a DJ blasting music through the PA system – would you pay for that “game day experience.”

Thankfully some clubs are scheduling all three grades at the one venue, which is a throwback to the glory days when you’d get there early to watch the rising stars and future superstars of the game – we need more of it. I often talk about the days of sitting in the broadcast box at Brookvale Oval with the late Bob Fulton and ‘Bozo’ would say to 2GB’s Continuous Call Team, “Keep an eye on this fullback in the 20s, he’ll be the next big-thing at Manly” – that was Tom Trbojevic.

ARLC boss Peter V'landys is threatening to move the grand final out of Sydney.

It would be easy for sporting administrators to get greedy and look at the financial benefits of hosting multiple Magic Rounds, but I would have thought you run the risk of taking the gloss off a highlight on the club calendar, when we should stick to one in Brisbane.

If the ARL Commission is intent on another Magic Round, then take it to New Zealand where the league could use it as a thank you to the Kiwis who have been robbed of footy over the last three years due to the pandemic.

It’s the least we can do for the Warriors and their loyal supporters who have stuck solid with their team while it’s been based in Australia. Let’s not forget, the players and coaches have lived away from home to ensure the competition continued with 16 teams. They’re heading back to Mt Smart Stadium later this year and I couldn’t think of a better place to play a Magic Round or Thank You Round for the footy fans across the ditch.

Let me know your thoughts by sending through an email to the WWOS Radio show by clicking on this link; https://form.jotform.co/70601482897867

Wide World of Sports Radio is heard from 6pm AEDT on 2GB 873am with Mark Levy and co-hosts Billy Slater (Monday), Paul Gallen (Tuesday) and Brad Fittler (Wednesday).

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