Rugby league will need Government help to pull through

Defiant Wakefield Trinity chief executive Michael Carter has backed clubs’ “unified approach” to underpin their bid for survival through the coronavirus pandemic.

Sunday, 22nd March 2020, 12:00 pm
Updated Sunday, 22nd March 2020, 12:12 pm
Michael Carter: Players will be paid.

Super League clubs are working closely with the Rugby Football League in sorting emergency plans to help stave off the financial hit that everyone expects.

There have been times in recent years when the two parties have been at loggerheads over various issues but both now have a shared common goal.

Rugby league shut down a week ago due to the global disease and no-one is expecting a return to action until at least May, bringing obvious fears of economic plight to the sport.

Sign up to our daily Wakefield Express Today newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Carter is well aware of the worrying issues at hand but has been encouraged by the response of many, not least his own supporters who continue to do their bit via various initiatives.

“As clubs, we’re trying to have a unified approach to finding solutions to this issue,” he said, while acknowledging the scale of the task they face.

“Clearly, even if we are optimistic, May 1st is probably the first week we could be back in action and that is being optimistic.

“And even if we get all the fixtures in, and the Grand Final, and the play-offs, and the Challenge Cup, the revenue will not be the same as if we’d had a normal season. For example, at some point I will probably have to fit in three home games on the trot inside one week.

“There are people out there who, firstly, wouldn’t be able to afford it anyway as that’s 60 quid in a week.

“But also there will be a lot more people without income and that has a massive knock-on effect for us.”

Carter added: “We keep using the word unprecedented but it’s true; we are in uncharted waters.

“There is going to have to be some sort of Government help; I know the RFL are talking to the Government and we’ve been quite happy to let them have that dialogue.

“They are aware of how much work the clubs do in their communities and we have a special place in the communities of all our respective clubs.

“I think everyone realises that. But likewise, in house, we’re going to have to look at what we can save.

“If we can get everybody through this to November 30th where they’ve all got a job, and we’ve got a game and we’re all looking forward to next season, that’s box ticked for me – however we get there.”

Carter is confident Super League clubs will all safely negotiate the initial period of doubt. “You are literally talking about a business that has zero income; there’s nothing coming into the club,” he conceded.

“Clubs don’t carry massive amounts of reserves as we’ve never been that kind of sport.

“But I would hope that, having spoken to the clubs, I think everyone will be able to get through March without any issue.

“All wages, certainly from my club’s point of view, will be paid.

“And that gives us some breathing space to take us into April to see where we are. Then you look at May and then the next three months after that and so on.”