Newcastle and Hunslet opt out of RFL’s invitational competition

Newcastle and Hunslet have confirmed they will not be participating in the RFL’s invitational competition this autumn.

The autumn competition was organised by the RFL after the cancellation of the 2020 Championship and League 1 seasons were cancelled.

While the competition will not offer any promotion and relegation between divisions, there is a £250,000 prize fund at stake.

Newcastle chairman Mick Hogan said: “Following a virtual meeting with the RFL and our fellow Championship & League 1 clubs we have considered the many challenges and opportunities around playing again in 2020.

“We understand why the RFL board chose to cancel the Betfred League 1 season in 2020. The costs of returning to play with increased expenditure on player testing, stadium readiness and initially playing behind closed doors made staging games very difficult.

“Even with limited crowds returning in October and potential prize money for the Autumn competition the logistical, operational and financial challenges are too great.”

Hunslet chairman Kenny Sykes said: “As I mentioned previously, the long term sustainability of the club is of paramount importance and the simple fact is that it would not be financially viable for us to participate due largely to the costs of testing together with the impact of having to take our players out of furlough to allow them to return to training.

“Additionally, there are other hurdles to overcome in order to meet the demands of Public Health England around a safe return to training and playing games in front of socially distanced crowds. We are in early dialogue with LCC to assess how we can best work together to safely overcome those hurdles should the position not ease by the start of the 2021 season.

“I realise this will be disappointing and frustrating news to all involved with the club and I can assure you that this decision has not been taken lightly, but we firmly believe it’s the right one for the club.”

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