Leeds Rhinos to play in front of crowds at Headingley from start of next Super League season - chief predicts

Leeds Rhinos' first home game of 2021 could be played in front of a 10,000 crowd.

Tuesday, 17th November 2020, 9:15 am
Fans could be back at Headingley in March. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.

Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington reckons fans will be allowed into stadiums when Betfred Super League resumes.

And he insisted he is “confident we will have a 50 per cent stadium capacity at the start of next season”.

The last Super League game played in front of a crowd was Castleford Tigers’ win over St Helens at the Jungle on March 15.

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Headingley has staged matches behind closed doors since August. Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com.

Fans have not been admitted to Emerald Headingley since March 5, when Rhinos thrashed Toronto Wolfpack 66-12 and Leeds’ final 17 games of 2020 were played behind closed doors at various venues.

But with a vaccine likely to be available by next March, when the new competition begins, Hetherington reckons the days of empty stadiums are numbered.

“There’s real pressure mounting for the return of crowds to sport and entertainment venues,” the Rhinos chief said.

“This is exactly what has happened in other countries and I think it will happen in our country as well.

“I think by the time we start next season a crowd of 50 per cent stadium capacity is one I am confident we will be able to achieve and our priority, of course, will be all our season ticket members, to make sure they get priority to be able to come and watch games.”

Clubs had hoped to welcome fans back at the start of last month, but an increase in coronavirus cases wrecked that plan.

Hetherington admitted: “It is dangerous to be making predictions, but there is a vaccine now.

“I know it isn’t going to kick in immediately, but having a vaccine is a game-changer and the country and the government have learned so much about having to deal with the effects of Covid.

“I think once we come through this lockdown and second spike, I am confident we will start getting back to some type of near new normal.”

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