We got what we wanted, says Rimmer

Upfront – The League Express Opinion – Mon 23rd Nov 2020

Ralph Rimmer says the he is not interested in contrasting the financial support offered by the government to the two codes of rugby, which was announced last week, and he insists the RFL got what it asked for.

The RFL chief executive was speaking after the sport received a £12 million loan from the government as part of the £300 million winter survival package for sport.

However, rugby union received £135m of the £300m package, a figure that has raised hackles among some Rugby League supporters.

Rugby League also received a £16m package earlier in the year, but Rimmer said a comparison with what the RFU will receive was irrelevant.

“I am really not interested in comparisons,” Rimmer said.

“The naysayers will do whatever they do, they’re always around. If you won the lottery they’d tell you you’d done it wrong. I think working with the clubs and all our other stakeholders, including the community game over the last eight months, the RFL has fought very hard on behalf of the sport and achieved a foundation that gives us a really good future going forward.

“We’ve spoken about why clubs haven’t fallen over – if we hadn’t delivered this then clubs would have fallen over because they’d have thrown the towel in.

“We made a calculation based on lost ticket revenue, which was incurred from the first of October to the first of April, that was the timeframe we were given.

“We’ve submitted our bespoke requirements and the Government has now responded twice to give us what we’ve asked for.

“We’re not really bothered about rugby union, they’ll have determined what’s sustainable to them. We got what we wanted, it was built on the business model we wanted, the first ask lifted us above every other sport and this gives us an opportunity, providing we spend it sensibly, to sustain the sport, manage our way through some sustainable growth and give us a bright future.”

Rimmer also confirmed that the recent loan would be distributed to clubs, with the funding given based on lost ticket revenue.

“Our Australia Test series was part of our last ask,” he said.

“Out of the £25-30 million we’ve achieved, there’s been some straight grants that have gone to the community in some form or other, and the rest will pretty much go directly to clubs, apart from a bit to the governing bodies.

“And not only that, it gives us some confidence going forward. Without that they would be tearing up their business plans, throwing in their keys and walking out – but they’re not.”

As far as we are concerned, the ultimate test is whether Rugby League can recover when Covid is no longer a threat.

We hope it can.

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