London Skolars have taken the decision to switch their fourth round home tie with Super League side Wakefield Trinity Wildcats to the Bell Vue stadium in Wakefield. The decision to change the venue of the match scheduled for Sunday 1st Arpil, comes after talks with both the RFL and Haringey Council owners of the club’s New River home.
The New River stadium only has a safety certificate for around 1,000 seated fans in the main stand which is considered inadequate for a Challenge Cup fixture of this scale. It is estimated that it would require in the region of £20,000 to be spent bringing the ground up to the safety standard required to expand the capacity for what is in effect a one-off game.
The decision has attracted some criticism from London rugby league fans about the club spurning the opportunity to build on what would be a high profile tie in return for the financial benefit of switching to Wakefield. The critics have suggested that the club should have made more effort to find another local venue, but such criticism ignores the ignores the obvious reality that finding an alternate London venue would be costly and a small club like Skolars has to make decisions which balance development ambitions with long-term operating needs.
A fourth round tie with a Super League club will bring a club like Skolars a much needed cash injection which can be used not only to finance the first team’s forthcoming National League Two campaign, but also to continue the excellent grass roots work which the club facilitates in North London. The club is looking to turn the game into a community event involving their junior teams and also the student rugby league community out of which the club emerged.