Rugby league suffers hammer blow with return of crowds put on pause

The wait for fans back in grounds will continue after the government confirmed a postponement of a scheme to allow people back into sporting events.

Plans were in place for supporters to be allowed back in from October 1st, but a recent increase in Covid-19 cases has seen the country’s alert level rise to four, meaning plans have been paused.

It means Super League’s four games granted pilot event status next week, including the derby between Wigan and St Helens, will no longer be able to host 1,000 fans.

Cabinet office minister Michael Gove told BBC Breakfast this morning: “We were looking at a staged programme of more people returning – it wasn’t going to be the case that we were going to have stadiums thronged with fans,” he said.

“We’re looking at how we can, for the moment, pause that programme, but what we do want to do is to make sure that, as and when circumstances allow, get more people back.

“The virus is less likely to spread outdoors than indoors but again it’s in the nature of major sporting events that there’s a lot of mingling.”

The move has resulted in the RFL joining other sports in calling on the government to ringfence money to ensure the recovery of sports and clubs.

It had always been hoped fans would return to grounds from October 1st.