Salford director Ian Blease has called on the Government to help save rugby league – after warning many clubs would be in danger after a month without action.
Blease believes a portion of the £350 billion package to help businesses during the coronavirus pandemic should be put aside for the sport because of the role it plays in local communities.
A working party to press rugby league’s case has been set up and Blease – whose club reached last year’s Grand Final – says financial aid is needed quickly.
The Red Devils boss said: “We’re the same as any other club – missing the game against Castleford this weekend is a large part of our income straight out of our budget. But we’re not on our own – this is every club and all sports.
“What did please me at the meeting of clubs on Monday was how the RFL and Super League are working together. The RFL have been tremendous, I’d like to say that.
“I went into the meeting with a game-wide vision – we’re all in the same boat, from St Helens to Whitehaven. We’re all going to suffer, it’s just pro rata between us and a club like Wigan, Warrington or Saints. We’re the smaller version within Super League but it won’t be easy for any club to pull through this.
“It’s a big worry, but what was reassuring about Monday’s meeting is that it’s not about the size of your club, we’re all in this together. Everybody would only last a month or so without the income generated from home games, sponsorship and hospitality.
“It could be horrific – and every club around that table recognised what is round the corner for them in a month or two.”
Blease believes that Government assistance would go a long way to providing clubs with some stability in a time of significant uncertainty.
He said: “We are working in the background on putting a package together for that to try and make sure we don’t let any clubs go. The Government has come out with measures to help businesses and I know a working party has been put together to look at this.
“There has to be some Government help, not just for Super League but the whole game. They have invested heavily in the World Cup next year but if there’s no game and no players then there’s no World Cup.
“It’s longer term than just what’s happening right now – it’s about next year and the year after that.”
Blease also says the work clubs do in their local areas should be taken into account.
He added: “Everything we do at Salford is based around the community and working alongside businesses in the city, and they would suffer as well.
“We’ve put a statement out for fans to keep backing us and there’s been a great response, but we can’t do it on our own. We always go back to them when we’re in need but this is bigger than that.
“Rugby league has been part of its local communities since day dot, the day it was formed, and it’s still the same now. Togetherness is what our sport has been built on.
“It’s an all inclusive sport that welcomes everybody with open arms no matter what gender or generation, and it plays a huge part in local communities everywhere it is.”
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