Plea for more government support

The Government has been asked to give assurances that no Rugby League clubs will be allowed to go under due to the effects of Covid-19, as crisis meetings continue to take place among northern MPs about how the sport can be supported by Parliament.

Having already received a £16 million loan over the summer to preserve the game’s short-term future, Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford MP Yvette Cooper has called on the Government to offer further support to ensure that Rugby League survives the pandemic without any casualties.

She told League Express: “We clearly need fans back in by the time the next season starts, but we need an urgent plan to support Rugby League between now and then.

“I’d like to see a joint plan between Government and the RFL to make sure every club survives. I’ve asked for a guarantee that they won’t let any of our clubs go under, and to make sure there’s a plan in place to support them. The loan was very welcome but the bills still need to be paid through the winter.”

Cooper believes the Government can roll out more initiatives of the sort being used to protect other sectors.
She said: “We’ve seen the loan but I think there are other options. There are things being applied in other sectors such as VAT cuts on next year’s tickets and business-rate holidays. There’s a strong willingness from the game to put together a plan that will make sure clubs remain at the heart of their community.”

And having served as MP for a Rugby League constituency for over 20 years, Cooper admits it is vital the sport continues to play a vital role in the communities where it is valued the most.

“Castleford Tigers brings the whole community in the town together in my constituency. But this isn’t just about protecting history, it’s about the future,” she said.

“I know there’s been national interest in support for football, but it’s vital people see the strength of support for Rugby League in local communities. Castleford without its rugby team would be unimaginable and I hope the Government urgently looks at this issue, speaks to the clubs and the RFL and puts a plan together.”

League Express understands that the All-Party Parliamentary Rugby League Group (APPRLG) met last week with a view to securing further support.

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