THE HYPED NRL match scheduled to kick off in Tamworth in May has been cancelled, with the Wests Tigers confirming they won't be back in the city in 2020.
The clash between the Wests Tigers and Canberra Raiders was canned in an announcement by the NRL club on Good Friday.
Tickets to the May 9 fixture that was supposed to be played at Scully Park will now be refunded.
The match had been under a dark cloud for weeks with the suspension of the NRL season and the forced shutdown of Wests Entertainment Group, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the official announcement on Friday, Wests Tigers said the decision had been made "to best assist with logistics and financial measures".
Wests Tigers CEO Justin Pascoe said the decision was disappointing, but confirmed the club wouldn't be back this year.
"There is no doubt that this is disappointing news for all involved," Mr Pascoe said.
"But it is a decision that is made in advice from the federal government and health authorities to best protect the health of the general public and community."
Just last month, Tamworth Regional Council voted to sponsor the NRL clash to the tune of $20,000.
Three councillors voted against the controversial sponsorship, but it passed with the majority support who said the economic windfall and national exposure was hard to ignore.
The NRL matches draw crowds up to 9000 spectators to the city and the economic impact is estimated around the $2.14 million mark.
It's the third year in a row Tamworth has hosted an NRL clash with the support of Wests Entertainment Group.
Mr Pascoe said the club remained committed to the New England region moving forward.
"Discussions have already begun about returning to the region in 2021, and we are indeed hopeful that we can secure a decision that is in the best interest for all involved," Mr Pascoe said.
Ticketholders for the Scully Park match will now be eligible for a full refund through Wests Entertainment Group, who will begin the refund process next week.
The clubs said refunds will be returned to ticket holders using the same method that they were purchased.
"This will be a big task so your patience and understanding will be greatly appreciated. We will contact you if there is any issues with your refund, otherwise please expect to see your money returned in the coming weeks," the clubs said in a joint statement.
The Super Rugby clash between the Waratahs and Bulls at Scully Park was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.