RFL pleads for crowds to return

Rugby League remains hopeful of fans being allowed in grounds from October 1st, despite the government’s revelation that they are reviewing the proposed return date of spectators.

A recent increase in Covid-19 cases saw the government reduce the number of spectators able to attend pilot events this month to 1,000, while they also confirmed they may push back the return of crowds from a planned start in October.

But that has resulted in an outpouring of reaction from the sporting world, including the RFL, with chief executive Ralph Rimmer stressing the importance of allowing fans back in.

“Sports need crowds. And fans need the opportunity to choose to watch their favourite sport in a controlled, socially distanced, and largely outdoor environment. Sports including Rugby League are expert in managing numbers of fans entering stadia, enjoying sport, and exiting safely.

“The Government had previously earmarked 1 October as the target date for the widespread reopening of major sporting fixtures. This is now being reviewed but as of today no final decision has been made on when it will go ahead.

“Rugby League respects that Government and health officials must conduct a thorough review. Public health has been at the forefront of everything that Rugby League has done throughout this period. At all times in our regular dialogue with Government I have stressed this commitment and this morning I have written to the Sports Minister to reiterate this and to urge that the 1 October date remains the target for socially distanced crowds.

“It is imperative that momentum is maintained in providing sports with a clear roadmap to first socially distanced limited crowds, safely building to increased crowds. Throughout the Government’s guidance on the return of sport a distinction has been made between indoor and outdoor spaces. Stadiums are large, outdoor spaces, managed and supported by experts in the flow of people, including via local transport and travel plans. Attending sport can be as safe or safer than other comparable leisure activities. And it is a choice.”

He continued: “Rugby League is ready. Behind closed doors event management has been exemplary. All Super League clubs, with support from the RFL and Super League Europe, have worked exceptionally hard with local authority partners to complete all required plans for socially distanced crowds in their stadia.”

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