RFL moves in alongside Manchester City

The Rugby Football League has opted to relocate its headquarters to the Etihad Campus where they will become neighbours of Premier League leaders Manchester City.

The Etihad Campus in East Manchester where the RFL will soon relocate their headquarters.
The Etihad Campus in East Manchester where the RFL will soon relocate their headquarters.

The governing body - who currently reside at Red Hall in Leeds and also at a site at Salford Quays - have been working on finding a new home since 2016.

They say the new National Rugby League Centre will provide the sport with an ‘iconic new home in a renowned sporting city and will offer world-class facilities for every level of the game, from community to the England Senior teams.’

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The RFL will become a major tenant within the next phase of the Etihad Campus development, in which the campus will expand as a national sporting centre of excellence, as well as a leisure and entertainment district.

After applications and proposals from a number of different councils based in the North of England, the RFL Board unanimously approved the proposal from Manchester City Council and the City Football Group last month.

RFL chairman Brian Barwick, said: “The move to the Etihad Campus is a genuinely exciting prospect and underlines the governing body's ambition to develop Rugby League across the spectrum of the sport.

“We want Rugby League to be a sport that future generations want to take part in and everyone has the chance to be involved with. This move will play its part in helping deliver that aspiration."

The Etihad Campus is a 200-acre site at the heart of East Manchester which is home to an array of world-class sports, leisure and community facilities including the Etihad Stadium and 80-acre City Football Academy, National Cycling Centre and Manchester Institute of Health and Performance and an array of sport national governing bodies.

While final plans for the new headquarters are still being developed, it is confirmed that the RFL will also become major tenants of the regional arena which will be rebranded as the National Rugby League Centre.

RFL interim chief executive Ralph Rimmer added: “Moving to the Etihad Campus will be transformational for the sport of Rugby League on and off the field.

“The world-class facilities that will be made available to every level of the England set-up, from youth through to senior Men’s and Women’s, will mean that our international squads will have access to some of the best training, recovery and on-field sporting facilities available anywhere in the world.”

The new Rugby League England Performance Unit, led by rugby rirector Kevin Sinfield, will start to work at the facility from later this year, while all RFL staff will relocate into a new state of the art headquarters before the start of the Rugby League World Cup in 2021.

Leader of Manchester City City Council Sir Richard Leese said: "The arrival of a national governing body which oversees one of the most popular sports in the country is another major boost for the city and in particular the Etihad Campus which is already the home of British Cycling and English squash as well as Manchester City FC, and a host of world-class sports facilities for both elite and community use.

“It perfectly complements our vision for the Etihad Campus as a globally competitive sport and leisure cluster which will continue to act as a powerful catalyst for the ongoing regeneration of East Manchester and underlines its status as a sporting epicentre.”

Manchester Metropolitan University has recently confirmed plans to establish a new Institute of Sport adjacent to what will be the Rugby Football League’s new home.

The Rugby Football League and Manchester Metropolitan University recently launched a leadership development course for Rugby Football League students, which will qualify delegates as sporting directors, based on Manchester Metropolitan University’s Masters of Sport Directorship qualification.

The vision for this area, set out in the 2017 Eastlands Regeneration Framework, is for this globally significant sports and leisure cluster with excellent transport facilities to help drive the ongoing development of East Manchester and the wider city.