The Rugby Football League is set to receive a £16m loan from the government to fund the future of the sport and ensure its survival.
Multiple clubs within the professional game expressed deep concerns for the future of the sport due to the financial impact of the current coronavirus pandemic.
Hull KR chairman, Neil Hudgell, stated that the rugby league could cease to exist as a full-time sport if funding wasn’t given. “Without that (the loan), and a broadcaster that doesn’t cut us some slack, we may not be around as a full-time elite sport come the end of the year,”
It has been made apparent by the government that the £16m is just a loan rather than a grant, so it seems to be expected that this will have to be paid back over a period of time.
Now the loan has been granted, the spirits of the Rugby world have certainly been lifted.
On their official Twitter page the Rugby Football League posted “In these most difficult of times, we have seen the very best of people within our great game.”
Castleford director of rugby Jon Wells says “It’s a lifeline pure and simple. Rugby League and Super League and the top division of the sport has really struggled since the lockdown measures and the social distancing measures and the absence of sport and therefore revenue for these clubs. This is not a league that is awash with money.”
The funding will enable the sport to continue at least for the immediate future whilst organisers work to facilitate the playing of the sport behind closed doors.
Steve Barclay, chief secretary to the Treasury, says “Rugby league is a sport that makes a significant social impact in the communities it serves, which is even more important now as we respond to the economic pressures resulting from Covid-19.”
This season remains suspended with no return date yet set but now the loan has been granted, there’s far less worry for the immediate future of the sport.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Rugby Football League organisers, professionals and fans have been keen to help in any which way they can.
It started as a message from the Rugby Football League President Tony Adams MBE who stated, “As well as taking responsibility for reducing the spread of the virus by following all the NHS advice, we can all do a few things to help our own mental fitness.”The letter continues with advice on how to take care of yourself and your mental health during the pandemic. Since then Rugby League Football has launched a new charity Rugby League United.
It was set up in response to pleas from the Government, the NHS and Sport England to support the upkeep of mental health wellbeing and physical fitness. The charity promises “to preserve and enhance the mental and physical fitness of players, coaches, fans, match officials and administrators alike during the Coronavirus pandemic.”
Rugby Football League have also released multiple initiatives to encourage people of all ages to stay mentally and physically fit whilst at home on lockdown.