Championship eyes return at end of August

Proposals for the Championship and League 1 seasons to return by the end of August have been drawn up as clubs try to find a way for the competitions to return.

Selected representatives from clubs across the two divisions met on Tuesday and Friday to discuss the logistics and costs regarding the potential return of the competitions.

The first working group has been tasked with working out the costs and logistics of a return, while the other is challenged with finding a way to offset the costs involved.

Following the first two meetings, there is still a feeling that the challenges presented may prove to be too great for the competitions to overcome.

That said, there is also a more optimistic outlook amongst many as they come to terms with the challenge ahead.

The relaxation of government guidelines, which was announced on Saturday by Oliver Dowden, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, has provided light at the end of the tunnel for many, who now believe there is a slight chance the season could return below Super League, especially if the costs and logistics relating to testing may not be as severe as initially feared.

The financial repercussions of not playing, with regards to both season ticket holders and commercial partners, have persuaded many clubs to try and deliver some matches before the end of the year.

As a result, rough proposals for a competition have been drawn up, though it would be a much-reduced structure.

Unlike Super League, there would be no midweek games due to the number of part-time teams involved.

The big question hanging over the proposal of a reduced competition is whether the RFL would deem it significant enough to warrant promotion to Super League off the back of it, a matter that will be vitally important for both Super League and Championship clubs.

Last month, 72 per cent of clubs said they did not wish to restart the campaign behind closed doors while the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme was active.

However, it was agreed that two working groups would be formed to try and find ways to return.

Talks will continue in the coming weeks.