Neale warns against early decision

Barrow Raiders Chairman Steve Neale has said it is still too early to make any firm decisions on the future of the league, and he would be willing to see the season stretch into the winter if that what was needed to complete a full season.

But that would only be if the majority of the campaign could be played in front of supporters.

“Everyone at Barrow Raiders is very keen to get started again and play a full season,” said Neale.

“But we have to be guided by the government as to when we can get back safely.

“Given the turnover of most of the clubs in this league, playing behind closed doors is very unlikely, purely because of the cost of testing the players for the virus.

“You’d be looking at around £200 a test, and there’d probably be around 30 people needed to be around at a game, so that’s £6,000 a game, 20 games for £120,000, which is a lot of money at this level.

“From our point of view we would maybe be supportive of one or two games behind closed doors, if we could see light at the end of the tunnel and then play until November with a socially-distanced crowd.

“Even if we can’t start until September, we don’t want to write the season off. We put a strong team together to try and gain promotion and we had started really well, so we want to try and build on that.

“If the death rate keeps dropping I think July 1st will be the key date for us. That’s the day that some pubs and restaurants might be able to start reopening. If they can reopen, why couldn’t outdoor venues?

“We could easily social-distance in our ground. It can hold 20,000, so we could socially distance 1,500 fans.

“But we have to follow the guidelines.

“At Wednesday’s meeting with the RFL everyone was keen to get the season played and the key message was not to jump the gun.

“We could easily write the season off now, but as the situation is changing so quickly, a month or two down the line and it could be a completely different ball game.

“We don’t want to get to a stage where other sports are starting back up and we’re not, because we made the decision too early to cancel it.”