RFL chief executive 100% confident sport will emerge again after coronavirus

Rugby league
All rugby league was suspended on 16 March

Rugby league is resilient enough to bounce back from coronavirus but needs backing from the government and key partners, says RFL chief Ralph Rimmer.

Rimmer confirmed the RFL has asked the government for financial support as part of its business rescue package.

The sport has been suspended indefinitely, leaving clubs without essential funds from matchday revenue.

"I don't have the doomsday scenario on the back of support from our major sponsors," Rimmer said.

"By that I mean broadcast and commercial partners. We have shown how resilient this sport is over the past 125 years.

"Naturally it will be affected by what's gone on and however long this lasts, but if we all pull together I have no doubt we will emerge from this, I'm 100% confident we will."

A joint statement from the RFL and Super League on Tuesday, released after a meeting between clubs via conference call, said the "sensible approach is clearly to continue working on various scenarios while acknowledging the suspension is going to be considerably longer than the three-week period we had initially confirmed".

Super League, the Championship and League One, along with all tiers of men's, women's and the community game, were stopped on 16 March and matches were initially suspended until at least 3 April.

Rimmer says there has been an encouraging dialogue with the government, and there is hope of tapping into the UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak's salary support package, which offers cover for up to 80% of wages up to a £2,500-a-month ceiling.

However, he also concedes that it may be a different landscape for the sport in the short-term at least in the aftermath of the pandemic.

"It does demonstrate there is support there," he told the 5 Live Rugby League Podcast. "This government in particular, and we submitted some work to them on Friday, are very much aware of the importance of this sport in the communities and there's a great sympathy with it.

"We're in a position where we can work with all our clubs and stakeholders that are affected and hopefully piece together a jigsaw which enables us to determine what we're going to look like when we come out the other side.

"That's clearly affected by how long the lockdown lasts. There is a way through it, we've done a great deal of scenario planning with all the clubs and we'll continue to support them.

"We cannot realistically give ourselves a date but work on scenarios. The way the sport emerges will be determined by the length of that period of lockdown. We've done a great deal of planning and worked out the different permutations to consider all eventualities going forward.

"Hopefully that work will help them [the government] to support us a little bit further."

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