11th March 2021, 10:39 | york
With fans not currently permitted to attend Rugby League fixtures due to covid-19 protocols, it may seem a strange time to relocate but for the York City Knights a long-term project will finally come to fruition this evening (Thursday 11 Mar).
The Knights are set to play their first fixture at their new home of the LNER Community Stadium as they welcome Betfred Super League side Hull FC in a pre-season friendly, live on Our League, 7pm kick-off.
The move to a new home is not only another massive step for the club who continue to make waves both on and off the field but also for the sport in York with the LNER Community Stadium set to host eight fixtures in the 2021 Women’s Rugby League World Cup, including both Semi-Finals on Monday 22nd November.
York City Knights Chairman, Jon Flatman, said: “2021 is a pretty exciting year from the club’s point of view.
“As a sport in York we have a new stadium and new training facilities that total a £60M investment into the sport by the Council and the University which is a huge asset going forward for the game and certainly for the club.
“It has been a long project for many people involved, some more so than me. But, for the four years I have been involved with it has had some ups and downs and essentially, you’re all striving for that end point which is the first game.
“That first game comes with huge excitement especially coming off the back of 2020 with no Rugby League. It is a fantastic facility and I think it’s fantastic for supporters and it’s fantastic from a corporate standpoint as well.
“I just hope and pray as soon as possible everyone can get to enjoy it.”
The Knights first game at their new home will see them do battle with Hull FC in a game which will be shown live on Our League this evening. Matchday passes can still be purchased here.
The fixture is one of a number of pre-season friendlies being broadcast alongside the first two rounds of the Betfred Challenge Cup and the opening weekend of the Betfred Championship via the Our League app in the coming weeks and Flatman believes this is a great opportunity for the Knights to shine in front of a wider audience.
“Ultimately, we want players to perform in front of as many people as possible as we have a great product. The challenge is to get that to as many people as possible and to monetize that broadcast or streaming service.
“It is absolutely vital that we have as many of the right games on the right platforms. I want people to turn on the Our League app and see the stadium opener with Hull FC and I want it look and feel right and I want it to be something that people say ‘hey, that’s impressive’ when they tune in.
“When you add the quality of the product and what happens on the field and the suspense and drama to that backdrop you get something pretty special.
“We’re just providing the canvas on which the players will be the piece of art.”
In addition to the excitement of moving to a new home, the Knights have bolstered their playing squad with a number of big signings such as Adam Cuthbertson, Ben Jones-Bishop, Ryan Atkins and Kieran Dixon, who between them have huge experience in the Betfred Super League.
The club’s investment in their new stadium and recruits is something that has also been matched away from the field as the Knights look to continue their growth throughout 2021 and further.
Flatman said: “That investment has been matched on the field as well with the new players coming in and also in the infrastructure of the club with us expanding the back-office staff in order to deliver on the back of the new players, new squad and new stadium.
“In 2021 we want to triple the turnover from the 2019 season, and we want to be a bigger and better business and a bigger and better club moving forward.
“Over the past three to four months we’ve worked hard on developing a business club with over 100 new businesses joining our ranks, with many of them being York of North Yorkshire based and this is something we believe will deliver huge benefits for the club.”
Watch York City Knights face Hull FC in a pre-season friendly live on Our League at 7:30pm. You can purchase your gameday pass here.