Leigh and Bolton in frame for cup tie

Leeds Rhinos v Wigan Warriors, Challenge Cup Final: Brett Finch is congratulated by Wigan chairman Ian Lenagan
Leeds Rhinos v Wigan Warriors, Challenge Cup Final: Brett Finch is congratulated by Wigan chairman Ian Lenagan
Share this article

WIGAN chairman Ian Lenagan was last night locked in talks to try and resolve their Challenge Cup fixture dilemma.

As hopes of staging the Warriors’ quarter-final tie with St Helens at the DW receded, well-placed sources told the Evening Post that Bolton’s Reebok Stadium and Leigh’s Sports Village were shaping as possible venues.

Latics face Wolves on the final day of the Premier League season on Sunday, May 13.

And while the obvious solution would be to stage Warriors’ match two days earlier, on the Friday night, that move was blocked by the Cup’s broadcast partners.

The BBC has priority of which tie it wants to televise in its Saturday afternoon slot – and a derby between Cup holders Wigan and St Helens was the obvious, stand-out fixture of the round. They last night confirmed the game will be shown live on Saturday, May 12 (kick-off 2.30pm) but did not comment on the venue.

The other games are Leigh v Leeds (Friday, Sky), Catalans v Warrington (Sunday, BBC) and Huddersfield v London (Sunday).

Their decision will force Wigan to switch their ‘home’ tie to a neutral venue – unless they are granted permission to play at the DW 24 hours before Latics, which appeared unlikely last night.

The Premier League’s two main criteria governing ground-sharing are that the football fixture takes precedent, and about the state of the pitch – hence the reason why Warriors do not usually play at the DW the day before Latics.

But last season during the play-offs, Latics chairman and stadium owner Dave Whelan was prepared to break that unofficial ‘rule’, until Sky Sports agreed to a fixture switch.

Lenagan and Whelan were both unavailable for comment yesterday as talks involving broadcasters and the RFL took place.

A Premier League spokesman yesterday detailed PL Rule 1.26, saying: “Each club shall take all reasonable steps to maintain its pitch in good condition throughout the season.”

He added the Premier League Board may intervene if it is not satisfied the pitch is “being maintained to an adequate standard”.

An RFL spokesman said he hoped the situation was resolved today.