SUPER League clubs may NOT get financial assistance to help them through the coronavirus crisis after one was turned down for a crucial bank loan.
Sides are desperately trying to navigate through the situation, with fears a lack of income could send at least one under.
The 13-a-side code’s initial suspension date of April 3 was yesterday shoved back to an undetermined time as the UK goes into lockdown.
Top flight clubs held a video conference with Rugby Football League chief executive Ralph Rimmer as talk swept through the game that it could be off until September, especially as the NRL down under faces a five-month shutdown.
Now SunSport has been told they may not qualify for the first step of government support, the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme which is aimed at helping small and medium-sized companies by allowing them to borrow up to £5 million at preferential rates.
One big club applied to its bank for the support, only to be told ‘no’ because it operates in an ‘uncertain sector.’
Put simply, if the government does not produce an aid package, they and others may go to the wall.
A club source said: “We thought it would be a process to help Super League clubs, even profitable ones, through government loans but we’ve been knocked back.
“Our bank told us we are in what they regard as an uncertain sector.
“We need intervention from the government or a lot of clubs will be fighting for their futures, including us. Assistance is needed in a pretty big way.”
The other question being asked that could keep clubs afloat through the shutdown is, ‘Will Sky continue to pay the TV deal that keeps the game going?’
Sources said some were happy to play behind closed doors with a reduced payment if it at least means some cash comes in.
But nothing at all would mean some are ‘stuffed.’
Another idea is to dramatically slash the fixture list to get Super League completed – with NO loop fixtures, NO Magic Weekend, NO play offs and NO Ashes series between England and Australia.
A Super League spokesman said it was ‘too early’ to comment on those points but indicated they are all being worked through.
Instead, Rimmer 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.”
Top of the agenda yesterday was clubs finding out if and how they qualify for the Government’s further measure of paying 80 per cent of employees’ wages.
However, SunSport understands one Championship side has already reached out about getting help.
Super League’s executive chairman Robert Elstone admitted getting all 12 clubs through the situation is key.
He said: “Super League and its clubs are working round the clock to prepare ourselves for the challenges ahead and to ensure the sport is in the best possible place for when life returns to normal.
“Our priorities are the health of our players and staff and the economic well-being of our clubs.
“We welcome the Government’s proposals to help businesses and in partnership with the RFL we are exploring all the options available to us.
“Our sport has enviable values that stem from the behaviours and attitudes of all of us. These will be essential to emerging strong at some point in the near future.”
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