England's Rugby League clubs given £16m emergency loan
London (AFP) –
England's Rugby Football League have been given a £16 million ($20 million) emergency loan to help deal with the financial fall-out from the coronavirus.
The British Government have sanctioned the cash injection as the Super League and lower division seasons remain suspended with no return date due to the on-going pandemic.
Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport admitted the loan was vital to save Rugby League teams from financial meltdown.
"This is a massive shot in the arm to secure the survival of rugby league," Dowden said.
"We recognise that many RFL clubs operate on very tight financial margins.
"Without their ability to stage matches with spectators and despite the Government's extensive economic package, the professional game has come very close to collapsing.
"Sports across the board are facing unprecedented pressures, and we are supporting them through wider Government measures.
"In this case we are intervening as an exception, not to save an individual business or organisation, but to protect an entire sport, the community it supports, the World Cup held here next year and its legacy for generations to come."
All Super League, Championship and League 1 clubs based in England are eligible to benefit from the loan.
Ralph Rimmer, chief executive of the Rugby Football League, said: "In these very tough times for the country and huge demands on Government, this is confirmation of why rugby league is important - our unique selling proposition - the sport's significant social impact in northern communities in particular.
"Rugby league is not a wealthy sport but is rich in the things that matter most - outstanding sporting and life chances in often disadvantaged communities.
"The effects of lockdown at the start of our season genuinely threatened the survival of our clubs at all levels."
© 2020 AFP