Keighley Cougars’ Betfred League 1 rivals Newcastle Thunder will return to Gateshead International Stadium to play this season’s remaining home fixtures.

The club, formerly known as Gateshead Thunder, played at the stadium until 2014 but moved to Kingston Park and became Newcastle Thunder in 2015.

After being promoted to the Championship ahead of the 2021 season, they spent three years in the second tier alongside the likes of Bradford Bulls and Featherstone Rovers, but they were relegated at the end of 2023, and folded due to financial issues soon after.

Thankfully, a major community push helped get them back on their feet and they are now returning to the stadium for the eight remaining home games of the season.

They will remain known as Newcastle for the time being at least.

As the council is currently seeking a partner operator for its leisure facilities, including Gateshead International Stadium, the club has agreed to a two-year licensing arrangement that would allow a new operator to renegotiate terms.

Councillor Martin Gannon, Leader of Gateshead Council, said: “It’s a real pleasure to welcome the club back to Gateshead.

“They have an ambitious vision for the future and are seeking to build relationships with other partners at the stadium to further develop their offer for our communities.”

Keith Christie, the chairman of Newcastle Thunder, said: "We are pleased to announce our partnership with Gateshead Council, which not only signifies our commitment to enhancing the sporting experience for our loyal supporters but also presents an opportunity for growth and community impact.

"We are poised to capitalise on the resources available at Gateshead International Stadium.

“This includes leveraging matchday revenues, enhancing well-priced offerings, maximising advertising opportunities, and assuming greater control over our game day operations.

Keighley News: It was a nice facility at Kingston Park, but Newcastle, pictured here hosting Bulls last season, lacked control of their own.It was a nice facility at Kingston Park, but Newcastle, pictured here hosting Bulls last season, lacked control of their own. (Image: Tom Pearson.)

“We view this as a huge development, symbolising a new chapter in our club's journey, albeit one that harks back to our roots."

Christie concluded: "We are optimistic about the prospects that lie ahead and look forward to forging a mutually beneficial partnership with Gateshead Council, further solidifying Newcastle Thunder's position as a key player in the regional sporting landscape."

Former England player and Thunder head coach Chris Thorman said: "It’s been a tough start to the season, and the opportunity to have everything under one roof again makes life a lot easier for us all.

“The facilities, pitches and gym provide a professional environment for my players to work from."

The first game at Gateshead International Stadium will take place on Sunday, May 26, when Newcastle take on Rochdale Hornets.