Championship and League 1 clubs are contemplating their inclusion in the RFL’s autumn Invitational competition after their seasons were declared null and void.
An alternative, non-compulsory event has been drawn up to take place in October and November with £250,000 worth of funding up for grabs.
Further details of the competition were presented by the RFL to the clubs on Friday and they are now considering whether to enter.
Two clubs, Halifax and Rochdale, have already publicly confirmed they will not be entering and League Express understands Toulouse Olympique and London Broncos are set to join them.
Batley and Barrow are expected to participate but it seems that the RFL’s hope of being able to go ahead with its 16-team format will remain unfulfilled. All the clubs are expected to make their decisions public by the end of the week.
“If it’s a low entry it’s not without trying but we’d certainly encourage clubs to enter,” RFL chief executive Ralph Rimmer told League Express.
“We’re not going to enforce teams to take part and the reason is this; the £16 million government funding is completely unique to our sport and one of the responsibilities is to avoid multiple insolvencies. If we made entry compulsory and at the end of it there were clubs becoming insolvent, they’d be asking me what we’re playing at.
“We wrote and asked clubs if they wanted to come back in 2020 and under what conditions and we shaped the competition to meet those needs.
“Many clubs would not contemplate playing behind closed doors. Some clubs wanted to get a competition out of this year because it meant they gave some content back to season ticket holders and commercial partners and in 2021 they can resume business as usual.
“If the competition ran through December the ability to sell season tickets would be limited as well as commercial partnerships, and many of the clubs play friendlies over the Christmas period.
“It gives you an idea of how this competition was formed. Super League has also chipped in to the prize pot and £250,000 is pretty substantial.”