Super League chief admits players could be placed on unpaid leave

Rugby league players could be placed on unpaid leave as clubs battle to survive the financial onslaught of the coronavirus.

Super League and its clubs are planning to introducing furloughing for both employees and players during the enforced lay-off but executive chairman Robert Elstone remains confident all 12 clubs will be ready to resume.

In a media briefing conducted online, Elstone said: “We’re looking at all sorts of cost-cutting, saving measures.

“Super League has spent a week looking at every single line in its budget. We’re doing all we can to ensure clubs are able to pull through this in the best possible shape.

Swansea City v Everton – Premier League – Liberty Stadium
Super League executive chairman Robert Elstone is confident all 12 clubs will survive (PA Images/Nick Potts)

“Clearly furloughing was a very welcome initiative the clubs put on the table.

“I think every club and Super League is looking very closely at how that allows us to get through this situation.

“We’ve spent an awful lot of time looking at our staff base and looking at furloughing as an option for a large number of our employees.

“We have to do that professionally and sympathetically and that principle applies across all clubs who I know are speaking to their employees about looking at furloughing. They’re doing that sensibly and collaboratively.

“It is an opportunity that will allow clubs and Super League to protect themselves economically over a difficult period ahead.

“We’re all sharing best practice on what furloughing might look like and I think there are more announcements expected. We are speaking to professional advisers about what it means.”

The Rugby Football League has welcomed the Chancellor’s decision to cover 80 per cent of wages for employees unable to work up to £2,500 a month and has applied for more financial support.

With no matchday income and other sources of revenue severely impacted, it is thought some clubs could soon be on the brink of collapse without financial aid but Elstone believes all 12 in Super League will be around for the resumption, whenever that comes.

COVID-19 Statement: Season Suspension

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— Betfred Super League (@SuperLeague) March 16, 2020

“Right now absolutely yes,” he said. “We have added the complications of a French team and a Canadian team with different Government advice that needs to be managed.

“But our big priority right now is economic survival for us and for our clubs and everything we’re doing is about that.

“So we are looking very closely at the support the Government is offering all businesses to make sure we’re as well placed as we can be to access that as quickly as we can be.

“The good news is that everybody is working together to find a solution. There are all sorts of options.”

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