Leeds Rhinos in queue for slice of Government’s RL bailout

Leeds Rhinos will be applying for a slice of rugby league’s £16m government loan.

Leeds Rhinos chief Gary Hetherington (Picture: Steve Riding)

The emergency funding, announced on Friday, is being provided by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to keep clubs afloat during Covid-19.

It will be administered by the Rugby Football League whose chief executive Ralph Rimmer says cash will go where it is most needed and will not be divided evenly between clubs.

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All English-based sides in Super League, the Championship and League One are eligible to apply and Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington confirmed they will be “in the queue”.

Four of Rhinos’ five competitive games this year have been staged at Emerald Headingley, but Leeds have not played since a 66-12 rout of Toronto Wolfpack on March 5. Rhinos have imposed a pay cut and players and most staff have been furloughed.

“We will be applying,” revealed Hetherington. “As I said right at the outset, clubs like ours who have big, diverse businesses and a lot of employees, normally that would give you an advantage in sporting terms.

“But in the situation we are in now, we in many ways have got the biggest problem. Our problems probably contrast quite sharply to some other rugby league clubs and sport businesses.

“When the application for funding was made (by the RFL) it took all that into account. The RFL have centrally held information as to how the postponement of games would affect clubs’ financial position and that was the basis of their claim. What they will now do, presumably, is dispense that against application, in the manner it was claimed.”

The three professional divisions include 37 clubs but Toronto Wolfpack, Catalans Dragons, Toulouse Olympique, North Wales Crusaders and West Wales Raiders are ineligible to apply.

Hetherington said: “All clubs have a different set of circumstances and all need to survive this pandemic and be in business at the end of it. But also there is the wider game as well.

“The money is being managed jointly by RFL and government departments so it will no doubt be quite a rigorous process, but we will certainly be in the queue.”

Rugby league has been suspended for more than six weeks and he welcomed the loan as “good news for the game.”

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