Clubs up and down the country are set to furlough (grant a leave of absence to) their players, coaches and staff this week as the sport takes steps to secure its financial survival.
At least five Super League clubs have already informed their employees of their intent to take advantage of the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), while Newcastle Thunder and Featherstone Rovers have been the first two clubs to publicly confirm they have furloughed all their staff.
Many believe there are three key components to the sport’s survival.
First, the continuation of money being received from Sky, with the latest instalment due imminently.
Second, financial support from the government, which the RFL has applied for and hopes to learn the outcome of this week.
Third, the length of the lockdown, which at this stage is much more uncertain.
“The CJRS is one of a number of Government initiatives that we have welcomed as this crisis has unfolded,” RFL Chief Executive Ralph Rimmer told League Express.
“We invited all member clubs to a conference call on Friday at which we went through the detail of the CJRS and other schemes, with the purposes of sharing information and providing a forum for discussion.
“We have arranged an additional call with the Community Board on Monday.
“It is then down to each club to work out how best to implement the CJRS to help their businesses survive the current shutdown, and to emerge when the season resumes.
“We have implemented the CJRS ourselves at the RFL, and are grateful for the flexibility shown by our staff as part of their commitment to the sport and the governing body, in what are challenging and unprecedented times for all.
“We are also continuing our dialogue with DCMS over the immediate financial needs of the game and its club.”
Last Tuesday the RFL had a call with Super League clubs after which the two bodies put out a joint statement confirming that fixtures wouldn’t be returning on April 3 as previously indicated. No firm date is now being proposed for a resumption and the situation is being kept under regular review.
Last week the RFL also approved a pay cut for its directors and executives, while RFL staff furloughing began on Friday.
League Express understands that the RFL and Super League are also staying in regular touch with Sky and BBC, as well as the sport’s commercial partners. This Saturday and Sunday the BBC will run special programmes on the Challenge Cup at a time when the broadcaster would have been showing the sixth round of the competition.