McNamara anger at Catalans’ financial burden

Rugby League chiefs need to make up their minds whether they want the game to expand or contract, according to Catalans Dragons coach Steve McNamara, who is furious that his club faces yet another away fixture at huge expense.

The Dragons have been drawn against Salford Red Devils in the Coral Challenge Cup quarter finals at St Helens on Friday 18th September and McNamara says it is a kick in the teeth for a club that has had to pick up the bill to help salvage the season.

Catalans are paying £50,000 per game for a private jet to fly in and out of the UK under biosecurity conditions and every additional fixture creates increasing pressure on club finances.

McNamara told League Express: “We had the extra round draw at Wakefield (pictured), which cost us over £50,000, and now another fixture away that’s another £50,000 for the flight and there’s only so much more the club can take. The financial impact of these decisions is ridiculous and it’s very tough on our club.

“Right from the offset we made it clear that we could host a game and get it televised. We accepted the extra away game reluctantly, but this is yet another smack in the teeth for our club. I understand some of the reasons why it is being staged at a neutral ground, but it’s the cost implication to our club, once again, which is the problem.

“It’s yet another financial burden on top of everything else that we’ve had to cope with so far this season and it could have been avoided. In my opinion we should be playing that quarter-final in France.

“We’ve got no complaints about going out there to play a game, we’re delighted to be in the quarter-finals of the Cup, but we are the only ones paying the price.”

McNamara said the increasing burden being expected of the Catalans club drew parallels with the treatment Toronto Wolfpack has received since running into financial difficulties because of the Covid-19 crisis.

He added: “This is incredibly hard for us; how on earth anyone expected Toronto to be able to get through it, given their circumstances, is incredible.

“I look at their situation and they have created a club from nothing that has attracted crowds of up to ten thousand on a regular basis, and that’s not even at Super League level, and it proves to me that the project has got legs. They have proven that they can be a success in Canada, but they never got the opportunity to achieve it because of extreme circumstances beyond their control.

“Then when they needed help there was none available.

“Since 1996, when Super League started with all the summer razzamatazz and outstanding promotion of the game, you have to ask the question: have we regressed or progressed?

“We’ve had four teams that have won the competition since that inception and do we want to continue that way, or do we want to develop further?

“When you look at a club like Toronto, who have shown that they can be a huge success in Canada, you have to ask if this is the way forward for us?

“Of course you have to do your diligence and ensure that any new owner has the right credentials, but in the overall scheme of things, do we want Toronto or Catalans or London or Toulouse to ever be in a position where they are able to win Super League?

“That is what would create interest nationally or internationally for our sport.

“All being equal, if the new proposal is successful and the players get paid I think we should be embracing that opportunity for that club and seeing what they can do if given a fair crack of the whip.

“Which is exactly what we are asking. By constantly expecting us to pay up for away fixture after away fixture, it is sending out the wrong message in my opinion.”

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