Featherstone chief executive Longo pushes for Championship start date

Featherstone Rovers’ chief executive Davide Longo has called on the RFL to nail down a start date for the return of the Championship and League 1.

The governing body said last week that they are looking at a March restart, with April looking likely for a return of crowds.

However, they have yet to go as far as confirming the schedule, something which is causing clubs challenges.

Leigh owner Derek Beaumont told League Express that he was reluctant to sign off several signings until there were concrete plans for the upcoming campaign.

Longo added to that by saying transparency is required to help clubs plan and forecast their futures.

“What we need is an immediate start date that firstly all clubs agree to,” he said.

“There’s still some modelling to be determined, you could look at the 1895 Cup or Challenge Cup as potential early fixtures that you don’t forecast for financially anyway and then you have crowds back in after that.

“But we just want the RFL to announce a date immediately so we can start to look forwards. We want to be able to get season tickets on sale and start doing things we can only do once we know when we’re starting again.”

Should clubs return to the field in March, it would be a full year in hibernation and almost three months later than the RFL’s initial hopes of starting on Boxing Day.

That said, minimising the number of games without supporters has the backing of clubs.

“Like all sports clubs, we need to be playing with fans in and if it gives us the best possible chance to get fans in then that’s that.

“I think March would be right, the weather improves a bit, it can be bleak in January and February. That’s where we’re at and we’ve been sending our thoughts to the RFL.”

However, another big talking point remains promotion and relegation, with the future modelling of Super League still unclear as the Toronto Wolfpack saga rumbles in.

There have been proposals for an 11-team competition should Toronto not be allowed back in but the bigger picture beyond 2021 and the new TV deal remains unclear.

“We need promotion at the end of the season.

“That’s not saying we’re guaranteed to get it, there are three, four or five clubs in for it but they need to confirm that quickly. Ultimately there needs to be relegation or an increase in teams. One way or another, someone from Championship needs to head up.

“The dialogue we’ve had with the RFL is that it’s still on the table and that’s all they’ve said.”