Manchester City's Etihad Stadium to host Magic Weekend

Etihad Stadium
The Etihad stadium has a capacity of 47,805

Manchester City's Etihad Stadium is set to host rugby league's Magic Weekend in 2012, BBC Radio Manchester understands.

The annual weekend event started off as "Millennium Magic" when Cardiff's Millennium stadium hosted it in 2007.

It moved to Scotland for two years, being held at Murrayfield, before returning to Cardiff last season.

The stadium was built for the 2002 Commonwealth Games, and hosted the 2008 Uefa Cup final and a number of music and sporting events.

It is hoped that moving the weekend to the north west of England will improve attendances to an event which has struggled to sell out big stadiums in Wales and Scotland.

When Magic Weekend was first staged at the the Welsh capital in 2007, it attracted 58,831 fans.

It peaked the following year when more than 63,000 turned out, then pulled in 59,749 for the first year in Edinburgh in 2009. But that figure dropped to 52,043 in its second season in Scotland.

Last season's decision to move the weekend to the start of the season resulted in an overall attendance increase to 60,214 but that figue still meant the Millennium Stadium was less than half full on both days of competition.

It will be the Rugby Football League's sixth attempt to try and broaden the popularity of the sport with the showpiece weekend.