Schoey: Is the risk worth it outside Super League?

Garry Schofield sticks to his suggestion that clubs outside Super League should defer the start of their season until the coronavirus is clearly under control.

Last week’s Covid-enforced training shutdowns at Leeds and Huddersfield only reinforced my belief that the Championship and League 1 should be put on hold until 2022.

Leeds reported six players and a member of staff had contracted the virus, while Huddersfield confirmed “a number of” cases.

Super League clubs have protocols in place, yet still can’t prevent outbreaks. How can Championship and League 1 clubs hope to avoid such problems?

Yes, we have the vaccine, but it’s going to take time to roll out, and even more time to take effect.

As we’re constantly reminded, coronavirus isn’t going away any time soon, and that’s going to make it difficult for clubs to train, never mind play matches.

Non-league football has had all kinds of problems and has been interrupted by shutdowns. There’s more contact in Rugby League and therefore more chance of the virus, rather than the sport, thriving.

We all know Super League went ahead because of Sky and the money the broadcast deal provides the top-flight clubs.

That’s not the case in the Championship and League 1, which didn’t resume last season because clubs couldn’t get spectators into their grounds.

Without that income, the safer option was to remain on ice and keep players and staff on furlough, a scheme which could well be extended, meaning they get at least get some pay.

I know one or two folk took exception to my suggestion in last week’s column, and claimed I’m trying to stop people working.

That’s not the case. I don’t want to put anyone out of work, but neither do I want to see clubs fold, and that’s the real danger we face.

We are at a very tricky stage, because starting the 2021 season carries very significant risks. I’m thinking of the long-term sustainability of clubs.

The above content is also available in the regular weekly edition of League Express, on newsstands every Monday in the UK and as a digital download. Click here for more details.