FULL-TIME Super League referee Chris Kendall will handle the Swinton-Oldham relegation battle, which the Lions have named ‘the £100,000 game’.
This winner-takes-all contest will be played this Sunday, September 10, at Heywood Road, Sale, M33 3WB, kick-off 3pm.
Taking central funding and projected income from gate receipts, sponsorship etc into account, the £100,000 is an estimate of the difference it will make between staying in the Championship and going down to League 1.
With two games to play both teams are on 14 points, but Swinton have a 129-point advantage in the for-and-against column.
On the final day of he season, Roughyeds are at home to Dewsbury Rams and the Lions to go Toulouse.
A draw at Heywood Road would take the scrap for Championship survival into the last day, but effectively Oldham need to win and then beat the Rams at Bower Fold if they are to be sure of staying up.
“It’s in our own hands and we know what we need to do,” said coach Scott Naylor.
Referee Kendall has been a full-time official for two years and this season alone he has handled more than 20 Super League games.
Last weekend he was in charge of Halifax v Catalans Dragons in The Qualifiers and the week before that he was a Wembley touchjudge at the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup final between Hull FC and Wigan Warriors.
His fellow touchjudge at Wembley was Jack Smith, who will also be on the line at Heywood Road on Sunday.
Rival coaches Naylor and Stuart Littler, former colleagues at Salford, are not expected to finalise their sides until Saturday.
Oldham are checking on the fitness of Adam Neal and Richard Lepori, while the Lions will be looking at the progress of Jack Murphy, Izaac Farrell and Thomas Coyle, none of whom played in last week’s 16-8 defeat at Rochdale.
Winger Mike Butt filled in for Murphy at full-back, while hooker Anthony Nicholson partnered Ben White at half-back in the absence of Farrell, on loan from Huddersfield, and Coyle.
With an anticipated big turn-out of Oldham fans and their own decision to admit Super League season-ticket holders for £10, Swinton expect one of their biggest crowds of the season.
From our point of view we urge all Roughyeds supporters to make a special effort to attend this one and to be as vocal as you have been all season and especially in the last few games.
Commenting in his Toulouse-match programme notes on the decision to cut admission for that game, chairman Chris Hamilton said: “We are taking a gamble on the basis that this game is a loss leader anyway, but just as importantly we are trying to generate support for the team at a crucial time of the season.
“Fans have been involved with us in this process and also in helping to organise things in the run-up to the game and for that I am very grateful.
“It is also a way in which we can say ‘thank-you’ to those of you who have stuck with us this season when injuries have absolutely ripped the squad apart.
“The support the lads have had all season has been exceptional and this is a small reward for that..”