English rugby league chief fears Ashes series 'sacrifice'

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London (AFP)

Rugby Football League chief executive Ralph Rimmer has warned the home Ashes series against Australia may have to be sacrificed because of the coronavirus.

England were scheduled to play three Tests against the Kangaroos in October and November but Rimmer said it would be tough for the matches to go ahead.

Australia's National Rugby League resumes on Thursday when the Brisbane Broncos face the Parramatta Eels behind closed doors. The Grand Final of that competition is now planned for October 25.

Rimmer, asked if the Ashes could go ahead as planned, told Sky Sports: "If I'm being honest, it will be tough.

"We are speaking to the NRL on a regular basis but I think we all accept that in very difficult times some sacrifices have to be made.

"Hopefully I'll have something to announce in the very near future. We have to be realistic and it is under some threat."

Super League chief Robert Elstone said the northern hemisphere's leading clubs were due to meet on Thursday to discuss resuming their season, which has been suspended since March due to the pandemic.

There are hopes the campaign can restart in mid-August, with three plans on the table that would lead to the season ending with a Grand Final on either November 28, December 12 or mid-January in 2021.

"The situation is very fluid," said Elstone. "We want and need to start playing again soon. We need to get going again.

"We need to work through testing and see how the virus goes over the next few weeks and make our decision."

Staging a Super League Grand Final at its scheduled venue of Old Trafford, the home of Manchester United, remains Super League's preferred option, but only if spectators are allowed into the 76,000-capacity ground.

"The Grand Final and play-offs generate £1.5 million ($1.8 million) for us and, if we are not having crowds, renting Old Trafford (for the match) would not work for us," warned Elstone.