In 2015, the Rugby Football League took the decision to move the Magic Weekend [VIDEO] to Newcastle. Manchester City's Etihad Stadium was undergoing construction immediately after the 2014-15 Premier League season, meaning the RFL had to look elsewhere for somewhere to host the Magic Weekend - a concept first introduced in 2007.

Newcastle's St James' Park and Coventry's Ricoh Arena battled it out for the rights, with Newcastle winning. Since then, Newcastle has twice broken the Magic Weekend record attendance - in 2015, 67,841 spectators turned out with over 68,000 the following year.

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In the city centre and engulfed in a friendly atmosphere, St James' Park looked to be the perfect venue. But, Super League clubs have taken it upon themselves to switch to Liverpool's Anfield, a stadium, coincidentally, nearest to Lancashire sides Wigan and St Helens and Cheshire club Warrington.

Ian Lenagan, Eamonn McManus and Simon Moran

The rift [VIDEO] within Super League and between Super League and the RFL has been well documented in recent months and Wigan chairman Ian Lenagan, Saints owner Eamonn McManus and Warrington owner Simon Moran have been at the forefront of this. After Nigel Wood was ousted from the Super League board and replaced by the Super League clubs' owners in November 2017, the three owners then took it upon themselves to announce the scrapping of the Super 8s in June 2018. At the time, Leeds owner Gary Hetherington labelled it a "power grab" by "a small group of men that think they own the game".

Though Hetherington's comments at the time were dismissed by a lot of fans, the decision to move the Magic Weekend to Liverpool - which is less than a 45-minute drive from Wigan, St Helens and Warrington - rather than the three-hour journey to Newcastle seems more than just a coincidence.

Are Lenagan, McManus and Moran expecting more of their fans to turn up to give them an advantage? Or, with the trio at the helm of the Super League clubs, is it a way of flexing their newly-found muscles in a two-fingered salute to the RFL?

Liverpool itself

Liverpool is a fantastic city, but Anfield is approximately three miles outside of the city centre - hardly walking distance from any of the pubs in the centre. Newcastle's St James' Park, however, is situated a short walk from the throng of bars and clubs lining Newcastle's city centre streets. Newcastle's atmosphere also takes some beating with the inhabitants as friendly as they come with few rough parts. Liverpool, on the other hand, is notorious for its trouble at night especially in the surrounding suburbs where Anfield is situated.

Yes, Anfield is a magnificent stadium and has already hosted England's second Test against New Zealand in the 2018 series and the 2016 Four Nations final. But, these were one-off games rather than a whole weekend and it remains to be seen if that kind of atmosphere and occasion can be reproduced or if the magic of Newcastle can be replicated.

Fixture list

The fixture list for the 2019 Magic Weekend has also done no favours with winning over sceptics; Leeds play London, Castleford [VIDEO] play St Helens, Huddersfield [VIDEO] face Hull FC and Hull KR do battle against Salford. That means no Hull derby, no Leeds-Castleford derby and yet again no Wigan-Saints derby.

By omitting such fixtures as these, a lot of the attraction for these clubs' fans has been lost. Some would argue that they already play each other enough during the season, but they will be playing the same team at least three times - home, away and at the Magic Weekend - regardless of who it is.

Superb planning

Super League needs to be given a pat on the back for switching the Magic Weekend venue to Liverpool at a time of the Liverpool marathon (please take note of the sarcasm). Nearly 20,000 people ran in 2018 with more expected in 2019. As such, hotel and accommodation prices have already skyrocketed after the announcement that the Magic Weekend will too be organised for the same weekend. If this isn't evidence of the naivety of leading Super League clubs then what is? Fans are already finding it difficult to find suitable accommodation at a suitable price and this is only going to get worse as time goes on.

What can we expect?

So then, what can we expect from Liverpool? Well, it will take something special to beat Newcastle and it appears the decision to move has been met with disdain from the vast majority of supporters - especially when numerous polls throughout the year have gone in favour of keeping the event at Newcastle. Despite the fact that the Magic Weekend has made a home in the toon, it was supposed to be a concept that moved to different parts of Britain in an attempt to attract new fans and give existing fans an exciting day or weekend away.

Liverpool, for the most part, is an attractive place and major steps have been taken in recent times to improve the city. In addition, it will be interesting to see if the city takes the Magic Weekend to heart like in Newcastle. For me, though, the move to Liverpool reeks of north-western big clubs' (St Helens, Wigan and Warrington) increasing stranglehold over the sport as a whole. It's a move that benefits these three clubs enormously and it is no surprise that it is the owners of these three clubs that have been the most vocal about changing the sport. If the rest of the Super League clubs aren't careful, Lenagan, McManus and Moran could run amok.