Leigh owner praises RFL’s strong leadership over coronavirus issue

James Gordon

Leigh owner Derek Beaumont has praised the RFL for their handling of the coronavirus situation, as he hopes to keep his players in training.

The Championship side are operating full-time this season, meaning unlike others in their division, players don’t have an alternative income to fall back on.

After the suspension of the season on Monday, Beaumont was part of a meeting of Championship and League One clubs with the RFL.

He has praised the governing body for documents issued to help support clubs – with wider calls to lobby the government for financial assistance.

Beaumont said: “The RFL had always planned to hold a phone conference today to discuss what we would do but that decision was taken out of our hands by the Government’s announcement on Monday.

“Prior to that we had received a paper from the RFL which was really extensive and they must be congratulated for their diligence on that. I think it has shown really strong leadership by the RFL.

“It was wide reaching, very informative and compassionate to all areas of the business including broadcast partners, sponsors and stadiums.

“It isn’t a decision by the RFL and Super League to say ‘let’s stop playing’. It’s a directive from the Government.”

In a lengthy statement on the club’s website, Beaumont also pleaded to fans not to try and claim refunds on their season tickets, which he says could bring the club down.

The season ticket and sponsorship money is in place to look after their players until the end of the season.

He added: “We want to keep our players training. I have had a meeting with John (Duffy) and we want to keep our players mentally healthy as well as physically healthy. They need to understand that they’ve got my backing as well as the backing from sponsors and fans.

“Everyone needs to be behind this club to make sure they see it come out at the other side in a strong position ready to resume playing fixtures when we are able so we can continue our challenge for Super League.

“Our players are in a good place. They will continue to train. We are different to some other clubs because many of our players are full-time so we can’t look to reduce what they earn. There is a commitment and funds already in place so they need to know they’re in a safe place.”

As part of the RFL documents, there are plans in place for how the season can be reshaped to get the fixtures in.

It is unlikely that play will resume when the suspension ends on April 3, though there is the possibility of games being played behind closed doors.