The survival of our Super League clubs at end of season is game’s priority says Wakefield Trinity’s Michael Carter
The sport is approaching its third weekend with no fixtures and the financial pinch is being felt at all levels.
Wakefield Trinity and Hull have become the first Super League clubs to place players and staff on furlough as part of the government’s coronavirus job retention scheme, which guarantees employees will receive 80 per cent of their wages up to a monthly total of £2,500.
Similar steps are being taken by Championship sides including Batley Bulldogs, Dewsbury Rams and Widnes Vikings and most - if not all - of the 37 clubs across three divisions are expected to follow.
Trinity’s chief executive Michael Carter now believes it will be “job done” for Super League if its 12 teams are still in business when their financial year effectively ends in November. Rugby league has never been a cash-rich sport and with little or no income being generated at what should be the height of the season, the outlook for even some of the leading sides appears bleak.
Carter took part in a conference call with other Super League clubs yesterday and admitted: “For me, it is about getting not only players, but the whole club and the whole sport, through this very challenging period.”
He insisted: “If we can get everybody through to the end of November and we are all still here, that is a massive job done as far as I am concerned.
“That is what I am working towards at this moment in time.”
Carter admitted to spending much of yesterday “looking at spread sheets, trying to map cash flows and stuff like that”.
He confirmed: “At our club, other than three personnel who are keeping certain things ticking over, everyone else is on furlough at this moment in time.”
But he also stressed: “They have all been paid in full for March. That happened (yesterday).
Trinity club captain Danny Kirmond told The Yorkshire Post earlier this week he supports the club’s decision, describing the furlough scheme as “a way for the club to keep itself in business at the minute and a way for us to definitely get paid”.
Carter added: “I haven’t spoken to too many of the players.
“They did get the furlough letter which stated they will be paid in full for March and then we will have to reconsider things at some point in April.
“I have spoken to a couple of the senior guys, Danny Kirmond and Ryan Atkins and a couple of the others.
“They realise what sort of boat we are in at the minute.”
No firm decisions were made during yesterday’s ‘meeting’, but Carter is hopeful the Rugby Football League (RFL) will make progress in talks with the government over seeking financial help and other support.
The initial shutdown, announced two weeks ago, has been extended indefinitely and while clubs are optimistic the season will resume, it is likely to be with a reduced number of fixtures, or to carry on into the winter, which would threaten the lucrative Ashes Test series scheduled for October and November.
“We are still in abeyance with a lot of things,” said Carter. “With a lot of the government interventions we are still not seeing all of the detail.
“Clearly there are ongoing discussions with Sky and other partners as well, so until we get a fuller picture we can’t make any announcements or statements.
“We need to see how things are going to go with a variety of matters.
“There is ongoing dialogue between the RFL and government, which I think has been fantastically well led by Ralph (Rimmer, RFL chief executive) and hopefully it provides an outcome that allows us all to get through.”
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