RFL changes insolvency rules and battles to save Ashes Series

The Rugby Football League is battling to preserve the Ashes Series and has changed its rules on insolvency in a bid to keep clubs afloat during the shutdown.

The decision by Australia’s National Rugby League to suspend its domestic season indefinitely due to the global coronavirus pandemic increases the likelihood that the eagerly-awaited Kangaroos tour in October and November will be cancelled.

RFL chief executive Ralph Rimmer, who admits that would present a huge financial blow to the English game ahead of the 2021 World Cup in this country, says the NRL decision came as no surprise.

“We were expecting it,” he told the PA news agency. “I’ve been speaking to (NRL chief executive) Todd (Greenberg) on a regular basis so I knew what their situation was.

RFL chief executive Ralph Rimmer (right) is still hoping newEngland Head Coach Unveiling – University of Bolton Stadium
RFL chief executive Ralph Rimme, right, is still hoping new England head coach Shaun Wane will be able to send his team into Ashes battle in October (PA Images/Anthony Devlin)

“Everything is inter-linked so all those things have an ability to impact on us.

“In all the scenario planning we’ve done, which has been plentiful, what’s happening on the other side of the world has been taken into consideration.”

Rimmer effectively ruled out a series against other nationalities taking the place of the first Kangaroos tour since 2003.

“I don’t think that would be feasible because, whatever restrictions apply to the Australians would similarly apply to most of the other teams willing to tour because many of those players would be enshrined within the NRL and UK competitions,” he said.

“At the moment, we’re aiming towards the Ashes. It’s hugely important to us and it’s there as an hors d’oeuvre to the World Cup in 2021.

“But nevertheless there are forces at work that are far greater at this moment in time.

“The game is under stress, the world is under stress, and we all have to acknowledge that times are changing and we have to give where necessary in order to make things work.

“I don’t exactly know which one of the permutations it will be at the end of the year, it will be dependent on several other factors.”

The decision by the RFL, in conjunction with Super League, to postpone all fixtures at least until April 3 is putting added stress on clubs’ finances and Rimmer admits the possibility of some part-time outfits going to the wall cannot be ruled out.

“It’s not impossible,” he said. “This is a new set of stresses that nobody has faced before so we’re not being naive.

“We have redressed the position in the operational rules on insolvency laws that would normally apply.

“We have built in some flexibility on that – we did that with the board last week – so we’re ready to react if that were to be the case. Hopefully it won’t be, the Government support will be very helpful in all that.”

Rimmer welcomed the decision of the Chancellor to pay 80 per cent of wages of employees unable to work due to the virus and is hopeful of more tangible support from the Government.

“I’ve just come off the phone from Government and we’ve discussed the implications of the announcements on Friday with respect to employment support,” Rimmer added.

“We delivered a piece of work to Government on Friday and I know that it was received well.

“Clearly the announcements on Friday will be very helpful to our sport. We speak to them two or three times every day so we know how empathetic they are to our situation.

“Our communities are very important to the Government, they recognise that so our sport is actually reasonably well positioned in all that.”

Rimmer says he will update the Super League clubs on the latest situation via a conference call on Tuesday.

Read Full Story

FROM OUR PARTNERS