Wakefield Trinity chief Michael Carter cautious over Government bailout

Michael Carter: Wakefield Trinity chairman taking cautious approach over loan to RFL.Michael Carter: Wakefield Trinity chairman taking cautious approach over loan to RFL.
Michael Carter: Wakefield Trinity chairman taking cautious approach over loan to RFL.
Wakefield Trinity chief executive Michael Carter wants the “detail” of Government’s £16m loan to rugby league before deciding whether to access it as it may just “kick problems further down the road.”

Friday’s announcement that such funds will be made available to save the sport as it recovers from the coronavirus pandemic has been well-received, not least by many relieved club owners.

Indeed, Carter praised Rugby Football League chief executive Ralph Rimmer’s “fantastic job” working with Government to secure the money.

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However, whereas the likes of Leeds Rhinos and Hull FC have already stated they will access the funds, Trinity are diligently awaiting further information.

Wakefield coach Chris Chester (Pictures: SWpix.com)Wakefield coach Chris Chester (Pictures: SWpix.com)
Wakefield coach Chris Chester (Pictures: SWpix.com) | © SWpix.com (t/a Photography Hub Ltd)

“Clearly it is a loan and Ralph has said quite categorically that it cannot be used in any way, shape or form to reinstate salaries that are currently being adjusted,” said Carter, with players across the sport largely furloughed since the start of last month and also taking pay cuts.

“We’ve yet to see what the repayment terms are or what any interest rate is on the loan so we’re waiting for that.

“From a Wakefield Trinity point of view, clearly with any loan it has to be repaid and therefore – if we can’t resolve the entire issue surrounding the game – there’s no point me just taking this loan to kick problems further down the road.

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“That would just mask over what is ultimately a shortfall in income that we will probably never ever recover. We missed a game against Wigan on March 27; we’d have probably looked at £75,000 for that but that income is never coming back to us.

Scene before a game at Belle Vue, Wakefield (Picture: SWPix.com)Scene before a game at Belle Vue, Wakefield (Picture: SWPix.com)
Scene before a game at Belle Vue, Wakefield (Picture: SWPix.com) | Simon Wilkinson - [email protected]

“We have to see there’s a solution that is viable in the next eight months, two years, three years that gets the game through this period in its entirety.”

The sport has been shutdown since mid-March and is unlikely to resume until at least July.

Even then it is likely to be behind closed doors and Carter knows numerous financial implications must be considered.

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“The problem comes when we bring the players back in as instantly then the furlough pay – let’s say this is before the end of June – finishes,” he said.

“Therefore, you are suddenly left with paying the players without any help from the Government interventions and we’re still not generating any income so there’s a massive problem straight away.

“Coupled with that you have the prospect of a season ticket holder asking for their money as they are not getting what they have paid for. Equally with sponsors…

“There is a massive double-edged sword and you’re still paying people; undoubtedly, with protocols yet to be announced there is going to be a lot of testing, a lot of sanitisation and a big bill still to put a game on.

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“That’s why I think this Government intervention is designed to try and plug that gap – between the end of June and end of November.”

Carter says clubs expect to be given details of the loan before the end of this week.

He added: “If it is repayable over say five years and the interest rate was one per cent – this is purely hypothetical – then that’s something clubs could look at and say we’ll take it now and then have five years to sort out our business where we’re paying this money back.

“That’s how I see it working. It’d seem to me to be a sensible way of utilising this money and paying it back. We’ll see.”

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Carter, meanwhile, has been assured funds will be available even if Trinity do not apply now.

He said: “One of my concerns was that, although I don’t need anything right now, what if I do in July, August, September, and the RFL say it’s all gone? I’m led to believe their submission was based on revenues each club submitted last November as part of their salary cap overview so there is a specific amount earmarked for each club; if I do turn up in August it will still be there for Wakefield Trinity.”

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