Wigan Warriors chairman Ian Lenagan says he has “total sympathy” for fans who can’t make their rearranged clash against Salford.
Some fans have reacted with anger after the club announced it was bringing the fixture forward by 24 hours...at just a week’s notice.
I have total sympathy. But the club has done everything it could, in spadesIan Lenagan
Lenagan described resolving this fixture clash as one of his biggest challenges in nearly 10 years in charge of the Warriors.
“It’s been an enormous problem,” he said, describing the switch to next Thursday night as the ‘less of all evils’.
“I can totally understand why a supporter who can’t get to the game on Thursday would be disappointed.
“I have total sympathy. But the club has done everything it could, in spades.”
While not blaming the Rugby Football League for the delay, Lenagan says the issue was flagged up last September and has dragged on since then.
The game’s governing body suggested Wigan move the game to an alternative venue such as Widnes, but Lenagan refused. He also ruled out postponing the game.
For Salford, this fixture is bookended by games this Sunday and the following Thursday – giving them little room to manoeuvre.
Of course, with Latics not playing Bury until Saturday afternoon, many fans may ask why Warriors can’t play on the Friday night as planned – especially as a new pitch was installed at the DW Stadium earlier this month. “Because the pitch would rip up,” said Lenagan, stressing the switch was not at the request of Wigan Athletic.
“It would be ludicrous at this time of year. We never even asked Wigan Athletic to consider it.
“The relationship between the clubs is remarkably good, and (Latics chairman) David Sharpe and myself get on extremely well. Had there been a possibility of doing a double-header on the Saturday we would have looked at it, but at this time of year, it’s a daft idea.”
Lenagan said seven fixture clashes were flagged up with the RFL when the provisional list was sent to them last autumn. Of them, two were unresolved – next weekend, and Easter Monday, when Warriors are scheduled to host Hull KR on the same day Latics play. The clubs are hoping to arrange a double-header on Easter Monday to resolve that clash.
“The pitch will have settled down by then, and the weather will be better,” said Lenagan.
Although the Salford fixture switch was only announced on Thursday with a brief statement, Lenagan says they have been working tirelessly to resolve it over the last few months.
“And this is the least bad option,” he said.
Salford will now face a four-day turnaround from Sunday’s Super League game against Widnes.
Fans used Wigan’s own Facebook page to complain, with some saying they had already booked transport and accommodation for the Friday night.
Paul Terry wrote: “Oh brilliant now I can’t go!
“One week’s notice, what a joke. And you wonder why people will look around on Thursday and ask ‘why is it so empty here?’
“Season ticket-holder that now can’t attend due to this stupidity should be compensated! Families will also be affected by this too.” Michael Campbell said: “ Wake up Wigan RL and stop treating us with disrespect. We deserve better.”
Mike Roberts wrote: “We’ve booked a table for 10 in Rigalettos hospitality and people are travelling and booked hotels for the Friday night!
“Absolute shambles giving one week’s notice it’s about time the rugby started making some decisions of there own!”
Wigan say any fan can no longer make the fixture can use the club Ticket Exchange.