Super League clubs could hit serious financial trouble before the start of next season if a plan to sell season tickets is not formulated, according to Wakefield chief executive Michael Carter, who believes the Government must put its trust in the sport to safely allow fans back into venues.
With further uncertainty about when supporters could return to live events after planned pilots for this week were halted by the Government, there is now a real possibility that no fans will watch Rugby League live until 2021.
And Carter, who insists Wakefield are well-prepared to make it through 2020, told League Express he worries how clubs will cope if they cannot promise a full season ticket to supporters for 2021, thus making them harder to sell and causing further income issues.
When asked how soon he felt it would be before clubs encountered serious financial implications, Carter said: “I think without further interventions, it could be before the start of the season.
“For a lot of clubs, season ticket money over the off-season is a massive thing. With the interventions we’ve had this year, there’s probably a way of getting over the line in 2020.
“But that money will run out pretty quickly and it’s not looking great for fans, so we’ve got to find a way where even for just 5,000 fans to get in to the bigger grounds. The government are going to have to trust us.”
On Wakefield’s own financial situation, Carter said: “The big thing for me is that this year, I’d never planned on crowds; we were hopeful but weren’t banking on crowds.
“The big thing on the horizon is how do I sell a season ticket? There’s no firm date of when anyone is going to use that ticket and, while I’m completely thankful that our hardcore fans donated their unused season-ticket money back, I wouldn’t expect them to do it next year – that’s the real big challenge.”
Carter has suggested Super League could introduce a competition-wide approach to sell season tickets to fans as one possible solution.
He said: “The thought is that we’ve got a World Cup at the end of next year, so we’re looking at a challenging calendar.
“You can reduce games, but you then reduce season ticket money, and it’s a difficult circle to square up. There’s lots of different factors at play. Could clubs do something together to make it work? Perhaps, but we need to think about how we survive this.”