Catalans to play Leeds behind closed doors

Catalans’ fixture with Leeds Rhinos will be played behind closed doors.

The Dragons have been forced to deny entry to supporters after the French government banned gatherings in excess of 1,000 people, due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

It’s a decision that has angered the Dragons, who say their request to postpone or relocate the game was dismissed and their inability to host a crowd will have severe financial implications.

“Following the unprecedented decision of the French Minister of Sports, the Dragons’ choice was to switch the fixtures,” Catalans Dragons Chairman Bernard Guasch said.

“Unfortunately, the Leeds Rhinos club did not accept our request.

“We then proposed to postpone the match and to play it later in the season, midweek or weekend depending on the Cup results of each club. We even offered a financial compensation to Leeds club for their additional travelling costs.

“Remember that we were in the same situation a month ago in Wakefield without solution or possible compensation for the cancelled game due to bad weather. To date, we are still waiting for Wakefield and the RFL to reschedule this match.

“Unfortunately the RFL, the Leeds Rhinos and the RFL Board did not hear our reasons, even after appealing the decision, and told us to play the game as scheduled.

“We strongly regret this decision which will hugely impact the finances of the club with revenues already anticipated in our annual budget.”

In response the RFL and Super League insisted it was the only solution given the circumstances, listing a variety of contributing factors that forced them to play the game at the weekend.

The factors considered were:

  • That the match can be played;
  • The absence of free weekends later in the season;
  • That Catalans already have two fixtures to be rescheduled;
  • The various logistical and player welfare issues surrounding midweek fixtures;
  • The unreasonable financial impact that would have been caused to Leeds if the fixtures were switched; and

A statement read: “The clubs will comply with the restrictions placed upon them by the French government and other arrangements will be resolved between the two clubs.

“The RFL stresses that this was a difficult decision enforced by the current circumstances, and acknowledges and has sympathy with the impact it will have on the Catalans club.”