Catalans Dragons are calling for financial aid from the French government to help steer the club through the winter.
Owner Bernard Guasch (pictured) will meet with officials from the Ministry of Sport this week to plead his case for state funding because of his club’s unique position of playing professional sport in an overseas competition.
While the UK government has loaned £16 million to the Rugby Football League to help with the financial impact of Covid-19, none of that aid is available to the Dragons and Guasch is hoping that French ministers will consider his case.
Guasch, the owner of a meat processing business in Perpignan, has had to finance almost half a million euros of unbudgeted travel and testing expenses since Covid hit and he has admitted that it would be impossible for the situation to continue into next year.
Following an experiment with limited attendances at Stade Gilbert Brutus, the French government has ordered a full national lockdown, and if confinement was still in place at the start of season 2021, games behind closed doors would “not be an option” without government support, according to Guasch.
Even the close-season would be a major financial challenge according to the Dragons’ owner, who told local media at the weekend: “We are hoping for a lot from this meeting because, frankly, I don’t know how we will wrap up the next four months without state aid.”
There was some relief for Catalans last week when the Mayor of Perpignan announced plans to reduce rental fees at Stade Gilbert Brutus.
The Dragons’ stadium is owned by the local authority and officials have offered significant rent reductions of 750,000 euros to be shared equally between the Dragons and the city’s rugby union club USAP, who are tenants at the nearby Stade Aimé Giral, for 2020 and into next year.
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