Ralph Rimmer addressed the media today to discuss the £16 million emergency loan the RFL has received from the government.
Here’s a breakdown of what we learned.
How will the funding be spread across the game?
Rimmer confirmed the RFL is in charge of distributing the money. Clubs from Super League down to League 1 can apply for grants, but must showcase that they have exhausted all other areas to cut their cloth, and will then be allocated money to plug any remaining gaps.
“We understand where the interventions are required,” he said.
“We have a fairly robust formula in place and clubs have to apply, we have to audit stringently and go through government who require reasonable stewardship as far as they are concerned.”
Will the funding be spread equally?
No, Rimmer confirmed it was a case-by-case scenario as some clubs are in more need than others. The RFL’s priority is to ensure
“All clubs have different business models and some have benefitted greatly from interventions the government has made,” he said.
“Some will require a lot more support than others but the responsibility is getting the collective through.
“It won’t be equitable, it will be on intervention to ensure safe passage, clubs will have to apply. There will be a good degree of due diligence.”
Can non-English clubs apply?
No. Rimmer confirmed that the money was for English clubs only, so Toronto, Catalans and Toulouse are not eligible. There is also a conversation to be had relating to North Wales Crusaders and West Wales Raiders.
“The clubs which are not British nationals were taken from the equation, originally they were in but now won’t benefit from these monies.”
Will this mean pay cuts are revoked?
No. The measures already enforced will remain, Rimmer confirmed. The loan is to ease further financial shortfalls.
“The sport and governing body took some fairly drastic measures in order to cut their cloth when this lockdown period began,” Rimmer said.
“None of them should be considered backtraced and it has to be used to move forward.
“It’s all about moving forward and being fit for the future. It’s not a lump sum in the bank account of each club and saying to them crack on as you were. We have to be meticulous in how we apply it to ensure we’re sustainable in the future.”
Is there any interest on the loan?
Rimmer refused to specify the terms of the loan but said the government had been generous, hinting that there was not.
“I won’t go into details but the government has been very supportive.”
How much money will the RFL keep to preserve its own future?
Again, Rimmer didn’t specify, but did admit the loan would be of comfort to the RFL’s own finances.
“In relation to the RFL, I think you’re alluding to blue-ribbon events that haven’t been played, such as the Challenge Cup Final and Ashes series at the end of the year,” Rimmer said.
“As the season pans out, we hope they still take place but we still have some comfort if there is disruption. The level of engagement has been outstanding at every level and this family of ours has shown what we do in those communities. It’s a real pat on the back for our family if I’m honest.”
When will the sport return?
Still, there are no definitive answers as that is dependent on variables out of the game’s control.
“We’ve been at the heart of all discussions with the government on how we re-emerge, behind-closed-doors is an option but won’t suit every club as they are reliant on ticket revenue. Dependent on the period of lockdown which government will determine, we understand football may go ahead with different criteria.
“We want to finish with some finals and blue-ribbon events with integrity. The other priority is player welfare, we appreciate we can’t play four games a week with substance, there several different models available to us.
And the Ashes?
“As it stands, it’s at the end of the year, but I would be naive in the extreme to say there isn’t some threat. I was in contact with my colleagues in the NRL yesterday, they’re under tremendous pressure and are looking at a return in the not too distant future as they rose their curve out, but all bets are off, nothing is nailed down at this point.
“We’re surrounded by a world under extreme threat, when it comes to negotiating a solution everyone has to come with an attitude of getting through it by working together.”