Many rugby league sides will have breathed a massive sigh of relief as the news broke overnight that the government had set aside a sum of £16 million to safeguard the sport through the Coronavirus pandemic.
RFL chairman Ralph Rimmer had been petitioning the government for support since the shutdown in mid-March, and Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said that the government had made the move to ‘protect the entire sport’.
All professional Super League and semi-pro Championship sides will be able to apply to the fund which will be made available soon to tide the leagues over until games can re-start, and meaningful revenue can once again begin to be earned.
Grant sizes will be determined on a case by case basis but with 37 teams able to make a claim the money on offer amounts to less than £1/2 million per side. There is still some debate whether the foreign based sides, Catalans Dragons, Toronto Wolfpack and Toulouse Olympique XIII will be included within the package.
The bailout makes it increasingly unlikely that we will see a rapid return to action in the UK and even if the competition does get underway then it is likely that it will be behind closed doors, a massive financial blow for all sides.
It’s fantastic news, and in the short term it secures the game, but will it be enough to ensure that all our clubs emerge intact from this unprecedented crisis?