RFL CEO Ralph Rimmer thanks Government for "understanding" need for £12m loan

The Rugby Football League says the Government’s further support as part of the Sport Winter Survival Package is “extremely welcome.”

RFL CEO Ralph Rimmer at The George Hotel, Huddersfield - the birthplace of rugby league. (Simon Wilkinson; SWPIX)
RFL CEO Ralph Rimmer at The George Hotel, Huddersfield - the birthplace of rugby league. (Simon Wilkinson; SWPIX)

It has today announced a rescue package of £300m awarded to various sports impacted by the absence of spectators as they continue to battle the ongoing effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Professional rugby league has received a £12m loan facility following the request that sports model the impact on their sport of the absence of spectators until possibly April 1.

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Rugby league has had no crowds attend games since March but it did receive an emergency loan to the tune of £16m in May.

RFL chief executive Ralph Rimmer said: “We are grateful to Government for recognising the importance of sport in general, and Rugby League in particular, to society and the economy, and for understanding the impact of the continuing absence of spectators.

“The Government showed in granting Rugby League an initial £16m loan in the spring that they valued the significant social impact of the sport in often disadvantaged communities.

“The RFL and our clubs followed a rigorous process in the distribution of those loans, which have now been allocated to all 10 of the UK-based Super League clubs as well as a number in Championship and League 1, and have been invaluable in allowing them to meet the continued challenges of 2020.

“The response of the players, the clubs and the sport’s partners this year has been remarkable. We have enjoyed a wonderful Coral Challenge Cup Final and we now look forward to the Betfred Super League semi-finals and Grand Final.

“The extended loan facility is extremely welcome as we plan for a strong 2021 and the return of all our competitions - culminating in hosting three World Cups (Men, Women and Wheelchair) next October and November.

“Rugby League would rather earn every pound than borrow one. Therefore, we now need a clear roadmap on the phased return of spectators, with the resumption of the sports pilot programme and the plans to safely introduce at first limited then larger crowds.”

The 2020 Betfred Super League season resumed in August and will culminate in the Grand Final next Friday but all matches have been played behind closed doors.

That was also the case in a reshaped Coral Challenge Cup, and there has been no resumption of the Betfred Championship and League 1 seasons, while the Betfred Women’s Super League season and all international activity, including a much-anticipated Men’s Ashes Series, was cancelled completely.

The RFL continues to work with Sport England in terms of specific support for Community Rugby League, including Women’s and Girls’ Rugby League, building on the considerable assistance already received.