Jon Wells: Rugby league handed financial lifeline

Drew Darbyshire

Castleford director of rugby Jon Wells says rugby league has been handed a lifeline after the government pledged a £16million loan to the sport.

The government will loan £16million to the RFL to help rescue the future of the game after it suffered damaging losses in the coronavirus pandemic.

Wells said: “It is a lifeline, pure and simple. Rugby league and Super League, the top division of the sport, has really struggled since the lockdown measures and the absence of sport.

“This is not a league that is awash with money and it is not particularly well financially resourced.

“Clubs have had to furlough all members of staff including players and players have taken pay cuts as well – some as large as 50% albeit on a temporary basis.

“All these measures are to try and make the sport able to continue to form some kind of holding pattern until we can resume playing again.”

Wells revealed that he believes the majority of the funding will be put towards playing games behind closed doors.

He added: “The reason I feel for the funding that has been made available from the DCMS (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) – and very welcome it is too – is that it will facilitate the playing of games behind closed doors.

“I don’t think anyone can envisage mass crowds at sporting events for the foreseeable future.

“All sport is a social glue but I think particularly so for rugby league. It is formed and cast in the image of its hard-nosed, working class northern roots – and it is a sport that hasn’t enjoyed an awful lot of financial success over the years but it is certainly a sport that includes its society.

“I think the sport is absolutely entrenched in the northern areas of England and wider society. It is not just clubs they (government) are saving, there are countless towns and cities they are saving as well.”

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