Bradford Bulls part owner Mark Sawyer has become chief executive of the club on an unpaid basis.
The move comes with temporary Chairman Eric Perez currently unable to leave Canada and managing director Mark Kilgallon in the category of people self-isolating for 12 weeks.
Sawyer has been given special dispensation to take on the role while still Chairman of Dewsbury Rams by the RFL.
He explained: “Eric is trapped in Canada – he had hoped to come back but is unable to now.
“Mark was among the 1.5 million asked to self-isolate, so with nobody left to steer the ship I had to step up.
“It’s highly irregular for somebody to be chief executive and chairman of different clubs, but these are highly irregular times, and the Bulls needed somebody to manage what is going on.
“I’ve been making sure everything is shut down correctly and trying to organise the pay roll, and I must say that the RFL has been brilliant at keeping clubs informed with everything.
“It’s a difficult time and people are both worried about their health and the financial implications of the situation.
“We are trying to get some money out to people by the end of the month, and when the furloughing comes in we intend to make 100 per cent of our payments.
“We’ve spoke to the GMB union and we’re trying to help people stay afloat, because a lot of players have been made redundant in their other jobs or have seen their hours substantially reduced.
“Rugby League is very much a secondary income for them and we’re trying to get some money to them at the end of the month.
“What all this has done has made the sport very united and all of our priorities are looking after our players and staff.”
Sawyer’s own bookmaking business has closed down while horse racing is suspended, allowing him to perform his roles at both clubs more easily.
He added: “It’s certainly not a problem in terms of workload at the moment.
“It’s a case of steadying the ship as best we can and giving people somebody that they can contact.
“We’re trying to keep staff as informed as possible and look after the club as best we can through all of it.”
DEWSBURY RAMS Chairman Mark Sawyer insists his expanded role at Bradford will not affect his commitment to his original club.
Sawyer has taken on the unique dual role, but says it won’t impact on his ability to keep Dewsbury in as strong a position as possible during the coronavirus lockdown.
Sawyer said: “I’ve got a lot of time on my hands unfortunately, so doing both roles is quite easy really.
“The workload I had when my business was still running was a hell of a lot more.
“When I’m sorting things out, everything usually applies to both clubs, and both are obviously based at Dewsbury.
“There weren’t any other serious options at Bradford – we had planned to start interviewing potential candidates for the chief executive’s job, but that won’t now happen this year.
“We’re just looking to get both clubs to the end of the season in one piece.
“At Dewsbury a lot of staff help run our other facilities and some are on zero-hours contracts, so we’re looking after them the best we can.
“It’s the same for everybody everywhere – we need to step up to keep our staff as informed as we can.”
LEIGH CENTURIONS have confirmed that backrower Nick Glohe has returned to Australia, and is not set to return.
The Scottish international joined the club ahead of the 2020 season and was a regular starter as John Duffy’s team enjoyed a winning start to the Betfred Championship season.
Centurions owner Derek Beaumont explained: “I understand it is a difficult time for everyone. To be isolated when you already feel that way in a different country away from your family can only multiply how we all feel.
“To that extent I understand Nick’s decision.
“I have to look after the club’s position, so could not authorise his return, as if I do that for one player, I would have to do it for all overseas players.
“That is not possible in the present circumstances with no knowing if he would be able to return when our season or training is able to resume.
“I would like to thank Nick for his efforts in a Leigh shirt.
“He came and backed himself and John showed a lot of belief in him for doing so, seeing him take his chance well and appeared in all the games that we played.
“We hope Nick arrives home safely and is able to continue his rugby career in the future.
“We will look to replace Nick as soon as we are able.”
Meanwhile Beaumont has pledged to help the staff of the SuperLeigh lottery after it announced last week that it was suspending operations with immediate effect.
Beaumont said: “SuperLeigh and its staff are an integral part of the club’s support network, and very much part of our family.
“Without the draws taking place and therefore no ticket sales they have no income to cover their staffing costs.
“They obviously cannot take subscriptions from our loyal supporters without a subsequent draw taking place.
“I will keep in contact with Christine Brown (SuperLeigh manager) to ensure that as a club we look after her and her team in the same way we are looking after our own staff and players to help them through this difficult time so that they can continue to function once this is all over, and their families are not placed in a position of burden.”
YORK CITY KNIGHTS coach James Ford has taken a pragmatic view about his side’s mixed start to the season.
The Knights, who defied pre-season pundits to finished third in the Championship in 2019 having been promoted, have lost all four league fixtures to date.
But Ford has seen enough in his team’s last two performances to encourage him that they are ready to respond once the competition is able to restart.
Ford said: “We’ve had a really challenging start to the season with some tough fixtures.
“We see ourselves as a good side and looked forward to those fixtures and testing ourselves against some full-time sides and some of the best, of not the best, sides in the competition,
“Unfortunately we were pipped a couple of times against Toulouse and London, and we weren’t good enough against Leigh and Halifax, if we’re brutally honest.
“We’ve had plenty of days where we’ve been excellent and had plenty of pats on the back, and not so many where we haven’t.
“It’s important that we use that positively, because we didn’t much like that and prefer the other side of the coin.
“As a coach, players and team we won’t have it all our own way all of the time, and we need to make sure we learn from it and use it.”
A definite positive has been Challenge Cup wins over London and Rochdale, as well as an encouraging league performance against the Broncos.
Ford continued: “When we played London in the Challenge Cup both sides were missing a couple of players, but it was a cracking game and I was really pleased with our character and how we hung in there.
“They came out all guns blazing and really took it to us in the first few minutes, the speed of the game on our GPS was something we’d not seen before.
“But we showed what we were about with the ball at the back end of the first half and the second half and managed to get through.
“Then the last two matches have been our best performances of the season.
“In the league game against London we were excellent in pretty much every area apart from converting our chances, and we realise that is the most important statistic.
“But our missed tackles was the lowest of the season, we completed well and were excellent coming out of yardage.
“We made 18 opportunities where, if we’d have taken the right decision or executed better, then we’d have had chances to score.
“But credit to London, their desire and resolve to get back forced us into making those decisions.
“When we looked back at the game we took a lot from it, and we were confident that we had a good squad of players and that sooner rather than later the tide would start to turn.
“There’s no room for sentiment in sport, but I did feel a bit for Rochdale and Matt Calland, because it turned and we really clicked against them.”
Ford has also paid tribute to his squad in the current climate.
He added: “The players have volunteered to set up a Strava group and have been uploading runs and training sessions, which makes them accountable to one another.
“There’s been some communication there over times and distances, which is good and testament to the culture we’ve got here.
“Even though we’re not able to train, they want to work hard and maintain their fitness levels as a group.”
WIDNES VIKINGS coach Tim Sheens says the club understands its position in the local community more than ever after its 2019 difficulties as they carry out a series of initiatives, including telephoning elderly supporters.
Vikings players, coaches and staff have been contacting the most vulnerable among their membership, while props Jay and Ted Chapelhow have been conducting live fitness sessions.
It comes after supporters rallied around the club during its financial strife last year, which Sheens says isn’t lost on the Vikings.
He explained: “We know we’re not the only ones doing it, but from our point of view it’s important to stick with the people who stuck with you.
“Supporters put their money into the club come rain, hail or shine and that’s important to us.
“They helped hold the club together before I got here and chief executive Phil Finney is very aware of that.
“People getting together in groups to get behind the club kept us going.
“Our club feels a need to repay them for what they’ve done for us.
“It’s important that we make contact with people who are stuck in the house and can’t get around as well.
“It’s important that it’s a phone call too – not everybody is computer savvy and is using YouTube or other social media.
“To have that personal touch is better than an email, a card or anything else.
“Being able to have a chat for few minutes on the phone with them on a regular basis can mean a lot.
“We’re all in this together.”
FEATHERSTONE ROVERS’ Australian-born Italian international Dean Parata was unable to head back Down Under as planned last week.
The former Toulouse Olympique man was set to follow Conor Carey, Alec Susino and Louis Jouffret in returning to be with his family back home.
But Rovers coach James Webster explained: “Dean was due to leave the morning after Boris Johnson made his announcement about everything shutting down.
“But according to Dean he couldn’t get a connecting flight through Dubai, Singapore or anywhere.
“He has a partner here with a family as well, so it’s hard for them.
“People want to be close to their families, especially if they have older parents.”
Webster remains in touch with Carey, Susino and Jouffret – the latter who is in France – over training plans while they are away.
Rovers chief executive Davide Longo said: “The club 100 per cent understands the players’ needs to travel home to be with their families.
“Of course we will miss them, but at the moment there isn’t any rugby to be played, so we will look forward to their returns when the current circumstance around the globe get better.”
TOULOUSE OLYMPIQUE have launched an initiative to collect and distribute unused facemasks as president Bernard Sarrazain praises France’s health workers.
Sarrazain addressed the club’s supporters through a club statement last week.
He said: “Our case is not isolated and obviously not very enviable, but it is nothing compared to the situation in which the professionals on the front line face this crisis, and especially the nursing staff, to whom I address, in the name of all at TO, all our support.
“All we can do right now is help them by following the instructions and stay at home, so that the epidemic is under control and we can get on with life.”
OLDHAM have announced that the funeral of their former hooker Kevin Taylor, who died earlier this month at the age of 73, will be held at Oldham Crematorium, Hollinwood, at 3pm on Wednesday, April 1.
Due to current coronavirus regulations, only ten people will be allowed inside the Crematorium – eight close family members plus Kevin’s lifelong friend Bob Henthorn and another member of the Oldham Past Players’ Association, who is still to be decided.
The family hope that, especially in view of the restrictions on attendance, lots of Oldham fans, and others, will hold Kevin in their thoughts and prayers from 3pm onwards on the day of the funeral.
Taylor, who died at his home in Oldham where he lived alone, played in 429 games for Roughyeds in the 1960s and 1970s before being transferred to Leigh for £5,000.
WHITEHAVEN coach Gary Charlton has backed his squad to keep their fitness levels high away from the club.
Charlton told the Whitehaven News: “Our players are a good bunch and I know, as professionals, they’ll be doing all they can to maintain fitness levels.
“Whether it’s down to some road running or working on weights they have at home, I know they’ll do what they can.
“We’re living in difficult times and it’s a case of adapting as much as we can to what’s going on.”
HALIFAX last week received a £5,000 cheque from the club’s Independent Supporters Trust to help pay players’ wages.
The Trust has joined forces with the Fax1 Supporters Club to boost the Squadbuilder fund.
Trust Chairman David Durbin said: “We recognised that at this difficult time with no rugby it was important that we provided some additional funds to support the club.”
A Fax statement read: “This along with the donations from Squadbuilder and Cashfax will be pivotal to the club’s survival in these harsh economic times caused by the coronavirus fall out.”
SWINTON LIONS have provided an update on the Lionesses RL initiative the club announced in early March.
It revealed plans to launch a female section under the title, ‘Lionesses RL’, which will be accessible to both schoolgirl and open-age players.
More detailed information on recruitment and training opportunities will be announced very soon via the club’s website.
A Lions statement read: “We haven’t forgotten about you!
“As soon as the current situation is over we will begin our training sessions.
“All those who have already indicated an interest we have you contact details and will contact you all individually prior to the commencement of sessions.
“If you haven’t contacted us yet and are interested in playing, supporting or being involved with the Lionesses, please don’t hesitate to contact our Director of Development, Damian Ridpath at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
LONDON BRONCOS coach Danny Ward says the club is doing its best to keep players and staff as up-to-date with its financial position as possible.
Ward said: “I’m speaking to the owner and CEO all the time and the club is in a similar position to everyone else in that it’s looking for solutions.
“We’ve all been paid this month, so it’s a decent position in that sense, and we’re all doing as much as we can to keep people informed.
“For the players, I don’t think it’s sunk in so much yet that the reality could be that we’re not playing matches for a few months; it still feels like a long weekend where we all expect to be back in.
“But they seem in good spirits and are in contact daily on their WhatsApp group, sticking to a decent routine to keep their bodies and minds as active as possible.”