Government steps in with £16million emergency loan for rugby league

The Rugby Football League will receive a £16million cash boost to safeguard the immediate future of the sport.

The emergency loan from the Government will help the sport deal with the financial impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

The season remains suspended with no return date set as the virus continues to impact around the world.

Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said: “This is a massive shot in the arm to secure the survival of rugby league.

“We recognise that many RFL clubs operate on very tight financial margins. Without their ability to stage matches with spectators and despite the Government’s extensive economic package, the professional game has come very close to collapsing.

“From my first sports visit as Secretary of State to Leigh Centurions, I could see how important these clubs are to the communities they serve.

“They are the beating heart of their towns and cities, and their impact goes far beyond what happens on the pitch.

“Sports across the board are facing unprecedented pressures, and we are supporting them through wider Government measures.

“In this case we are intervening as an exception, not to save an individual business or organisation, but to protect an entire sport, the community it supports, the World Cup held here next year and its legacy for generations to come.”

The RFL will administer this funding, in partnership with Sport England and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

All Super League, Championship and League 1 clubs based in England are eligible to apply.

Ralph Rimmer, chief executive of the Rugby Football League, said: “The RFL is grateful to the Government for understanding and acting on the case for the whole sport.

Ralph Rimmer File Photo
Ralph Rimmer File Photo

“In these very tough times for the country and huge demands on Government, this is confirmation of why rugby league is important – our USP (unique selling proposition) – the sport’s significant social impact in northern communities in particular.

“Rugby league is not a wealthy sport but is rich in the things that matter most – outstanding sporting and life chances in often disadvantaged communities.

“The effects of lockdown at the start of our season genuinely threatened the survival of our clubs at all levels and their ability to continue delivering those positive social and economic impacts.”

Super League executive chairman Robert Elstone added: “Make no mistake, a challenging period still lies ahead and public safety and the protection of our communities remains our priority.

“But, at a tough time, the game has had a good day – we can now look forward, with more confidence, while we continue to play our part in the country’s recovery.”