Free away travel initiative for Thursday night matches

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FANS are to be offered free away travel to televised Thursday night matches, Super League clubs have decided.

x A joint initiative between clubs and Super League to boost attendances and improve the atmosphere at the midweek fixtures came from a two-day gathering of the 12 club representatives this week.

“It’s the start of a process to make sure that we reward loyal fans of clubs,” Super League general manager Blake Solly said.

“It was one of the more productive meetings we’ve had in the last few years. Super League and the clubs are keen to listen to the fans better than we ever have before.

“There are lots of other discussions and plans that fans will see happening over the next few months about trying to engage better with them to make the matchday experience better.

“Warrington offered free coach travel at the start of the year for their game at Leeds and it was hugely successful - they took over 1,000 fans to that game.

“The great thing about having a good away following is the atmosphere it creates. The scenes at the end of the game at Salford last night when Chris Sandow kicked that field goal to win the game for Warrington are some of the things that make rugby league stronger.”

The meeting was the first opportunity for clubs to formally discuss the World Club Series and Solly says there was unanimous backing for the league’s plans to grow the tournament despite the one-sided nature of the three matches this year.

“While everyone wanted the results to be better, there was a feeling that it’s a great initiative and a great experience and that the tournament has got plenty of room to grow,” he said.

“The support for the event is unanimous and there were some clubs in the room that are desperate to get in it, which is great.”

Clubs also discussed the salary cap and the marquee-player rule but Solly says there was no push to make any changes.

Meanwhile, Solly is predicting another record Magic Weekend crowd when the two-day event returns to Newcastle in May.

St James’ Park, which was chosen to host Super League’s on-the-road round in 2015 after the Etihad Stadium became unavailable, set a new aggregate attendance record of 67,788.

“We’re ahead of where we were at this stage last year,” Solly said. “We’re really confident we’ll get over 70,000 people over the two days.”