Championship given hope by government

Almost every Championship and League 1 side would be able to accommodate their entire average attendance from last season, should the Government allow stadiums to be no more than a third full later this year.

Boris Johnson announced last week that the intention was, following a number of trials over the summer, for spectators to return properly to sporting events in October. But even if that was limited to one in every three spaces being available due to social distancing measures, every club outside Super League bar one would be able to fit their regular attendances within that limit.

Only Bradford, who have moved to a smaller stadium in Dewsbury this season, would be unable to fit in their regular crowds based on the 2019 season averages, and the figures have intensified debate about whether the Championship and League 1 campaigns should be cancelled for this year.

One lower-league chief executive told League Express: “These figures serve as yet another reason why it is foolhardy to simply say ‘cancel the season’ without any thought whatsoever. Yes, we’d have to potentially play August and September without any supporters whatsoever, but by October and November, nearly every club would be able to service their usual supporter base.

“This income is absolutely vital for many clubs, and is worth restarting the season for alone. Those clubs who do not want to restart due to furlough have to realise that by October, their staff will come off furlough and will have to be paid by the club anyway – and by then, they could be offsetting that with gate receipts and supporter income.

“It’s another reminder why any decision made by the RFL has to be done carefully and properly.”
Sheffield Eagles have the next highest percentage of used stadium capacity in the Championship, with 30% of their ground being filled on average throughout 2019. The figures remainder of the clubs in the Championship are:

Batley – 15%
Bradford – 70%
Dewsbury – 22%
Featherstone – 22%
Halifax – 13%
Leigh – 28%
London Broncos – 25%
Oldham – 13%
Swinton – 25%
Whitehaven – 12%
Widnes – 28%
York – 25%

In League 1, the figures are:

Barrow – 25%
Coventry – 25%
Doncaster – 7%
Hunslet – 15%
Keighley – 12%
London Skolars – 20%
Newcastle – 10%
North Wales Crusaders – 25%
Rochdale – 7%
West Wales Raiders – 10%
Workington – 10%

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