Catalans Dragons ask for Magic Weekend to be staged in France

Catalans Dragons play Wigan Warriors at Nou Camp
Catalans' match at Nou Camp in May was their second in Barcelona, having hosted Warrington at the Olympic Stadium in 2009

Catalans Dragons have no immediate plans to play at the Nou Camp stadium again but have asked Super League to take the Magic Weekend to France.

The Dragons drew a regular-season Super League record crowd of 31,555 to Barcelona for May's win over Wigan.

"Catalans have got a couple of ideas they're working on," Super League chief executive Robert Elstone said.

"They're not going to be ready for 2020 but I'm excited about what we jointly can deliver going forward for Magic."

He added: "Catalans Dragons are really keen to see whether we can accommodate the Magic Weekend in France."

Catalans, who are usually based in Perpignan, beat the Warriors 33-16 in the first rugby league game held at the home of Spanish La Liga side FC Barcelona.

Head coach Steve McNamara has said the club wants "to represent Catalonia as a whole region", and Elstone described the club's achievement in holding a game at the Nou Camp as "remarkable".

He added: "For one club to take on that risk and responsibility, I think Super League owes them a debt of gratitude and we should celebrate their entrepreneurialism.

"I know it placed a huge burden on the club so I don't blame them for not being as ambitious in 2020.

"But they are showing great ambition about taking the game into different parts of France via Magic."

Magic Weekend to stay in Liverpool?

The 13th Magic Weekend was held for the first time at Anfield in May and attracted an aggregate crowd of 56,869,

An announcement for next season's venue is expected in early October, with the stadium in Liverpool expected to be retained.

"We have real competition for Magic as an event from a couple of very serious venues," Elstone said.

"There was a conversation with another venue in the south of England - and we will be putting a recommendation to clubs before the end of the month

"A lot will depend on the commercial deal but I'm a firm believer in Magic being used to celebrate Super League and being refreshed on a regular basis by taking it to new areas.

"Anfield and St James' Park are very keen to stage Magic in 2020 and my personal preference will be to stay at Anfield and see it build over at least one or two more years."

Super League courting investors

Elstone, who is coming to the end of his first full year in charge of Super League, believes the competition is in good shape as it prepares to celebrate its 25th year in 2020.

However, he thinks it may require a multi-million pound investment from private equity to take it to the next level.

"The priority is growing the profits," he said.

"Short-term that means the Grand Final attendance and it's also about new sponsors and corporate partners and the next television deal.

"Beyond that, new investment potential could be transformational if it's brought it in a way that works for the investor and the clubs.

"There is a lot of work ongoing to see if we can find a partner that will help transform the sport.

"Potentially it could be very exciting. We have a duty to look at it and, if we deliver it, it could be fantastic for Super League."

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