Challenge Cup final to be played behind closed doors at Wembley
This year’s Coral Challenge Cup final will be played behind closed doors at Wembley, the Rugby Football League (RFL) have confirmed.
Leeds Rhinos face Wigan Warriors in a semi-final on Saturday, two weeks before the rearranged showpiece which has been delayed since July because of coronavirus.
The RFL have also announced that next year’s final will be staged at Wembley on Saturday, July 17.
The latest government restrictions on public gatherings mean no spectators will be permitted for the 119th Challenge Cup final, which will be the 78th at Wembley.
The final will be shown live on BBC One from 1.45pm, with a 3pm kick-off.
It will go to golden-point extra-time if the game is drawn after 80 minutes.
Advance ticket holders can either claim a full refund, credit to another major rugby league event in 2021 or transfer their tickets to the 2021 final.
Tickets for next year’s decider will go on general sale in November.
RFL chief commercial officer Mark Foster said: “In what has been such a difficult year in so many ways, the confirmation that the 2020 Coral Challenge Cup final will be played behind closed doors is a huge disappointment, after we had done everything in our power and received such committed support from everyone involved at Wembley in our efforts to allow some fans into the stadium.
“We hope the announcement of a firm date for the Challenge Cup final next summer will provide some compensation for rugby league supporters, with the hope of a return to something like normality and brighter times ahead.
“All the reasons we were looking forward to a first Challenge Cup final in July in 2020 will hopefully still apply in 2021.”
Foster added: “We have been delighted by the response to our recent announcement that the 2020 Coral Challenge Cup final will be played at Wembley, with the players and officials of all four clubs in next weekend’s semi-finals enthused by the prospect of a special occasion even in the absence of spectators.
“In such uncertain times, it is a real positive for the game that we are now able to maintain rugby league’s special relationship with Wembley in both 2020 and 2021 – and we would like to place on record our thanks to all at Wembley Stadium connected by EE as well as everyone involved with our broadcast partners the BBC and our main commercial partners for the competition Coral for their patience and flexibility in recent weeks.
“Given the impact of the latest announcements from government regarding social distancing on both the professional and the community game, it is almost certain that there will be implications for the structure of next year’s Challenge Cup.
“Further announcements on that will be made whenever decisions have been made.”
Warrington Wolves play Salford Red Devils in Saturday’s other semi-final, both at St Helens.
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