Newcastle Thunder coach Simon Finnigan has backed the decision by the club to make some necessary staffing and employment changes to ensure they are in a strong position to move forwards when rugby resumes.
Thunder were the first club to confirm that members of staff will be furloughed during the suspension of the season, while other staff will receive reduced wages.
The furloughed workers will receive 80 per cent of their salaries, up to £2,500 a month from the government.
“As a club and an organisation, in order to sustain ourselves and get through this period, we are all taking a reduction,” said Finnigan.
“Those people that make the decisions about how best to keep us going have said this is the best course of action.
“No one knows what is going to happen next, and this is such a unique situation that I think we need be cautious more than anything.
“Everyone is touched by what’s happening in some way, so tough decisions need to be made.
“Because everything is changing so quickly it’s hard to sit back and think of any rationale behind things. You just have to act quickly.
“No contracts have been cancelled, so everyone has been kept in a job, but we’re just getting less pay.
“Doing that keeps everyone in a job, and that’s not just our first team, it’s everyone across the organisation, which is about 300 people.
“We’ve had to manage it to make sure everyone is okay.
“This is how we’re managing the situation, but hopefully we’ll not be in it for too long.”
ROCHDALE HORNETS’ incoming Chairman Andy Mazey has said now is the time for the club to really step up and help the local community through the coronavirus pandemic.
The club has launched a new scheme that will reach out to those supporters that have been left feeling alone and vulnerable since the country went into lockdown.
“Now is the time that the club can act as a beacon in the community,” said Mazey.
“It’s a two-way street. We rally the troops and ask for support when we’re out there playing, so at times of trouble if we can help the older section of our fan base, we will do so.
“They’ll be feeling very vulnerable at home right now, so it’s good that we can reach out and touch base with them and let them know we’re thinking of them.
“There’s not a great deal we can do in terms of going round and helping them with anything, but a voice at the end of the phone might be appreciated at this time.
“Steve Kerr, our chief executive, has analysed our database of season-ticket holders and members and we’ve identified those that are in the 70-plus bracket and those that we know might be vulnerable. Between myself, Steve and (coach) Matt Calland we’re going to pick up the phone and give these people a ring.
“We have plenty of content going out on social media and the website, which is great. But not everyone has access to that, so they might not hear much about what the club is doing.
“Doing this is a way of having a chat with people who might be struggling in these tough times, and letting some people know what we’re doing as a club.”
If any readers know of anyone who might appreciate a call from the club during these difficult times, email their details to firstname.lastname@example.org
KEIGHLEY COUGARS assistant coach Dean Muir has been hit more than most since the country went into lockdown a week ago.
He and his partner Olivia were due to get married on Saturday, but that has now been delayed until a much later date.
“Unfortunately the wedding is off for now, but we will rearrange it,” said Muir.
“It is just one of those things. No one could predict it, no one can do anything about it but we will get it back into the calendar.
“No doubt people will use it as an excuse for another stag do.
“The health and safety of everyone that would be there is very important. My best man has flown back to New Zealand and my brother lives in South Korea, so he’s gone back too and they are in self-isolation, so it’s more important that they stay safe at home with their partners.
“We’ll look after everyone first and make sure that they are right and then the wedding will happen. We’ll make a real big celebration once all this is over.”
WORKINGTON TOWN coach Chris Thorman has said he will continue to do whatever he can to bring a feeling of normality to people’s lives in these unprecedented times.
Thorman has so far taken part in a couple of live social media broadcasts allowing supporters to interact with their club, even if they haven’t got any games to watch.
“We’re trying to think outside the box as to what we can do for the fans to keep them involved,” explained Thorman.
“Myself, the chairman and a board member did a Facebook live video last weekend, where anyone who was watching could ask us any questions they wanted and we answered them. It covered everything from me and my career, to where we see the club’s future.
“It’s trying times, but we’re still trying to keep them entertained.
“And it’s at times like this when interaction with the club can offer a slight sense of normality.
“People can even buy a virtual pint from the club shop as another way to support the club through these times.
“So us doing what we’re doing for them is our way of giving them something back for their continued support.”
BARROW RAIDERS coach Paul Crarey has told League Express that he has offered to take a pay cut as the coronavirus pandemic bears down on Rugby League.
The season has now been further delayed past the initial April 3 return, but Crarey has been assured that the club is currently in a strong position to cope until games resume.
“As a club we’re in a healthy position,” said Crarey.
“I even told the board that, if they saw fit, me and my assistant coach would take a knock, or even freeze our payments until we got going again.
“Steve (Neil, Chairman) said he doesn’t want to do that if he doesn’t have to. But we’ve given them the green light to say if they have to do that, they can and we’ll be happy with it.”
COVENTRY BEARS director of rugby Alan Robinson has said the club’s business model could see them come out of the coronavirus pandemic as one of the stronger clubs in the league.
While many clubs will face severe cash flow problems due to the lack of games and gate receipts, the Bears will not have that problem.
“In some respects we’re probably one of the better placed clubs to see this situation out,” said Robinson.
“The way we run things means if we don’t use our facilities, we don’t pay for them, our players are on pay-as-you-play contracts and we don’t have any full-time staff, so we can shut down and thankfully start up again as a sustainable club.
“We’ve effectively gone into hibernation at the moment, but we’re still trying to keep the guys fit so they are ready to go when we start up again.”
DONCASTER coach Richard Horne is urging everyone to follow the Government’s advise about social distancing during the coronavirus crisis.
Being a type 1 diabetic, Horne has been directly affected by the measures put in place and has self-isolated as he would suffer from more severe symptoms if he contracts the illness.
“Having been diabetic for several years I believe that I have shown it can be managed while still living a healthy and active lifestyle as well as performing to my best on the rugby field,” said Horne.
“But during the current pandemic it is important we stay safe.
“If a diabetic person contracts the illness then it means the body works overtime to fight the illness, making it more difficult to manage the diabetes and manage blood sugar levels.
“The crucial thing for everybody is to listen to the advice given by the government and help the NHS by carrying out social distancing. If we do that then we will hopefully go some way to flattening the curve and keeping everyone safe.”
NORTH WALES CRUSADERS favourite Tommy Johnson has said he has one very clear aim at the club he has spent his entire career with.
The 28-year-old, who missed the whole of 2019 with a knee injury, is in his ninth season with the Wrexham club. While he doesn’t know how many more seasons he has left as a player, he knows where he wants the club to be before he does call it a day.
“I don’t know how much longer I have left in my legs but hopefully I have a few more years yet,” Johnson said is an interview with Rugby League World magazine.
“I will do whatever I can to help push the club forward and make the play-offs. That is definitely our goal this year and we are more than capable of doing it.
“Helping get the club back to the Championship would be a great achievement. We have been there before and if I can help get us back there in the next couple of years it will feel like I have gone full circle with them.”
*Read the full interview with Johnson in Rugby League World magazine – OUT NOW
HUNSLET centre or winger Ben Markland is hoping that the indefinite delay to this season could work in his favour, as he continues to recover from a knee injury.
The former Leeds Rhinos Academy youngster suffered the injury against North Wales Crusaders. As well as dislocating the knee, coach Gary Thornton also confirmed ACL damage, meaning Markland, who had had a bright start to the campaign, could face the rest of the season on the sidelines.
But the current situation across the nation could see him feature again before the year is out.
“I’m feeling much better now and I’m able to get about,” said Markland.
“I’ll need an operation, but that’s understandably been put on hold because of the coronavirus.
“Everything’s up in the air a bit right now – as it is for everyone in the country – but, with a bit of luck, and from my own perspective, I’ll hopefully be able to return before the season’s over.
“One thing’s for sure, my injury has made me hungrier, if anything, and I’ll come back stronger.
“I’d been enjoying my first real taste of adult Rugby League, after having previously only really known Academy, Youth and Junior rugby, and I can’t wait to get back into action.
“The club’s been good to me and I want to repay Gary and all the lads for their support.”
WEST WALES RAIDERS coach Aaron Wood knows the club, and the wider game, will have a role to play in getting the country back on an even keel once the coronavirus pandemic is over.
That is why he is making sure his squad is ready to get back into action as soon as the current restrictions are lifted.
“We understand and hope that when this epidemic is over we can play our part in making sure society can get back to normal as quickly as possibly, and sport is a big part of that,” said Wood.
“We have given players training programmes to do while training is cancelled, and as a team we will keep close contact via emails, phone and Skype to be ready for our next game, whenever it may be.”