SUPER LEAGUE News & Rumours – May 1, 2020: “£16M Ways to Try”

Super League Aid Delivered. McDerMott Fears No Home Games for Wolfpack. Calls to Ditch Relegation Grow. PLUS: Empty Stadiums are coming and Jackson Hastings Has Something to Say.

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NEWS & RUMOURS – May 1, 2020

There a lot of opinions and attitudes around the big news that rugby league in the UK has been given a huge £16m financial aid package to help rescue rugby and Super League. Already word that the distribution of funds will not be evenly matched and will be on a needs basis:

The rescue package has been made available by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to help professional rugby league survive the coronavirus crisis. The funding, available only to English clubs, will be administered by the RFL. Rimmer confirmed it will not be distributed evenly and stressed both the governing body and individual clubs will be expected to “use it wisely”. – Yorkshire Evening Post

More from Hull KR owner Neil Hudgell who does’t see a quick restart to the Super League season:

The news of a cash injection into Rugby League, announced last night, has helped to provide some relief to clubs, but uncertainty regarding a return date and a format for fixtures remains. Hudgell told talkSPORT2’s Mark Wilson and Phil Caplan: “Your guess is probably as good as mine…. I imagine we’re probably not going to see anything until the beginning of July, and maybe a bit later. – forty20.news

More on the big money payment to the RFL from Rimmer:

“We have to make it last as long as we can. The sport, the governing body and the professional clubs took some fairly drastic measures in order to cut the cloth when this lockdown period began. None of those measures will be backtracked and we have to re-shape going forward so there will be a degree of due diligence from the government on how we spend it. It’s not about landing a lump sum in the back of each government and saying crack on the way you are doing because we have to be more meticulous in how we apply and make sure the money is used widely to be more sustainable in the future. – Hull Daily Mail

“Super League executive chairman Robert Elstone has acknowledged the tireless work of the RFL in securing a £16m cash injection from Government to safeguard the future of the sport…. An announcement last night confirmed that Rugby League would become the first sport to benefit from significant state support as the economy at large battles the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic…. Speculation that the RFL and Super League could once again combine continues to mount, and Elstone was clear in his praise for the sport’s national governing body. – forty20.news

Sad news in the rugby and Super League world as forward Jordan Cox suddenly passed away at age 27:

The Rugby League Benevolent Fund announced the news of Cox’s death, saying it occurred “at home, in Hull, in circumstances believed to be non-suspicious and not related to the current public health situation.” – Evening Standard

Toronto Wolfpack head coach Brian McDermott concedes that the likelihood of playing homes games in 2020 is getting more and more unlikely:

It’s looking grim in terms of being able to play games in Canada, which is a big thing for the Canadian people, the fans, the players and the club… For us one of the biggest things about playing for a club called Toronto is playing and being in the city, but we’re unsure at the moment what our involvement looks like… It could be UK-based, Europe-based, or whether we get to go over to Canada closer to the end of the year.” – forty20.news

In light of the pandemic and global sports shut down many see it as an optimum time to implement overdue changes to the structure of Super League and some ideas are gaining real steam:

Alex Graham: I hope promotion and relegation is scrapped as the majority of teams in the Championship don’t have the criteria to enhance Super League. We need to build Super League strategically, starting with the initial 12 teams with a review on a two-year basis to allow those clubs who wish to apply for Super League status sufficient time to build a case based on a range of criteria. At that point Super League can decide who to admit (or omit) to ensure business and geographical growth not to mention other key areas such as player production and youth development.” – Wigan Today

“Leigh Centurions owner Derek Beaumont says there has been discussions about making the Super League a 13-team competition. With clubs struggling financially during the coronavirus lockdown, it’s thought that a majority of top flight sides would like to see relegation scrapped for the 2020 campaign, in order to avoid one club falling into further financial uncertainty.” – Hull Daily Mail

Bobby Golding:

“Secondly, I would run a 13-team competition with home and away fixtures being played on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday only, with teams playing every six days at a maximum due to player welfare and one team every week having a weekend off… There would be no relegation for five years, so clubs could get financially secure. There would be Leagues 1 and 2 at a semi-professional level running as well.” – loverugbyleague.com

If and when the Super League season resumes the reality of players performing in empty stadiums is growing closer:

“But with social-distancing measures expected to be in place for the foreseeable future, it is understood talks are taking place looking at resuming the campaign behind closed doors in the summer. And Trinity chairman Carter told the Forty20Live podcast: “Nobody has said it yet but when we do get back playing, it’s going to be behind closed doors. There’s no other way that we’re going to get to put games on.” – The St. Helens Reporter

“These crowds are likely to be absent for some time after the season resumes. In order to fulfil a credible season, Super League will have to play behind closed doors. If you accept that position, then you must also accept that the game needs to be creative about how it approaches this problem. Playing games behind closed doors will require additional financial input (most likely from a compassionate Treasury via the Department for Culture, Media and Sport – and there are reasons for optimism here).” – Sky Sports

VIDEO: “Castleford Tigers director of rugby, Jon Wells, says rugby league has been handed a lifeline after the government pledged £16m to the sport in the wake of coronavirus.” – Sky Sports

Danny Addy sees his Leigh Centurions returning to Super League but with talk of eliminating relegation at least for the season his hopes will likely be put on hold:

“The Centurions gained promotion to the top flight from the Championship for the 2017 season – but suffered relegation in the same campaign. Addy joined Leigh from Hull KR in the off-season – and the Scotland international wants to help his new club get back into Super League.” – loverugbyleague.com

Lost amid the COVID-19 crisis has been the contract season that is now upon Super League. With all the uncertainty of life – let alone rugby league – expect some hard decisions as clubs struggle with the new financial landscape:

“Super League clubs have been given another eight weeks to make a decision with a new deadline of June 26th now in place for clubs to inform players whether they intend to offer them a deal for 2021…. However, in the meantime, the passing of the traditional anti-tampering deadline allows players to talk to other clubs, which puts most Super League clubs, including FC and KR at risk of losing a host of talent at the end of the year… Neither Hull nor Rovers will have prioritised contracts over the last couple of months and rightly so, as they focus themselves on trying to navigate their way safely through the coronavirus pandemic. – Hull Daily Mail

VIDEO: “The Wigan Warriors rugby league player Jackson Hastings has opened up about his battles with lockdown anxiety and is trying to help others… Jackson is confined to his house in Salford, 10 thousand miles away from the rest of his family in Australia. – itv.com