RFL fee plans could have “disastrous effect” on the amateur game and cause exodus of players

A growing number of community clubs and leagues are protesting about the RFL’s recently announced plans to introduce an annual registration fee for participants.

The controversial move would require all players, coaches and volunteers to pay a fee, believed to be in the region of £20-£40 per year, to participate in rugby league activity.

BACKGROUND: RFL defend controversial plans to introduce membership fee for community rugby league

Though the RFL say that clubs have been warned of this plan for several years, some in the community game remain unhappy at the way they say it’s being forced on them.

In a letter to the RFL, seen in full by Love Rugby League, one club said: “We wish to register our strong disapproval of the course of action you wish to take concerning the governing body trying to collect annual fees from all players and volunteers in the amateur game.

“Your proposal to charge an annual registration fee to all players, including children, and to the volunteers in the amateur game would have a disastrous effect on a very considerable number of children and their families as well as to the amateur game itself.

“Amateur rugby league has always had a positive, beneficial effect on young people who have been introduced to the sport, and in particular those from areas of social deprivation. Whilst parents fully understand the necessity to have to pay subscriptions to their amateur clubs, the suggestion of the governing body trying to introduce an additional annual charge to all junior and open age players in addition to volunteers is being met with disbelief and significant concern.

“We feel that there may be alternative courses of action which could be taken, however at present given the lack of transparency (owing to there being an absence of any significant, formal consultation with amateur clubs) it is difficult for these to be considered and discussed.

“We would welcome the opportunity to review the proposal and the evidence base and rationale for the proposal and to enter into a meaningful discussion with the RFL along with other grassroots clubs.”

Points have also been raised about the additional costs incurred by the RFL following the break away of Super League in recent years, which has resulted in duplicate overheads.

The RFL’s accounts to the end of 2019 showed no net assets and a balance sheet deficit of around £3.2m.

The club spokesperson added: “It is understood that the RFL must try to balance the books, but this surely should be at the expense of the professionals not the amateurs.

“We have protested to the RFL about their proposed charges as we consider that they could result in a considerable number of grassroots clubs closing down.

It is simply the case that very few amateur clubs will be able to afford the unnecessary cost and aggravation which these charges would bring.”

In recent interviews, Sandy Lindsay, the RFL’s non-executive director who is chair of the community board, said the governing body wanted to work with clubs to shape the membership fee.

They will also work in partnership to support those who genuinely cannot afford the fee – however, those at the coal face at community clubs believe this number to be far greater than the governing body is anticipating.


  1. So you want to make kids pay to play the sport and you want amateur clubs to pay to play in competitions what a load of boloxs. This is a sure fire to kill off the game at grass roots level and a sure way to kill of the future of the professional game . With no future players coming through the foundations of the sport . Sure way to kill the interest in the sport instead of cultivating it

    • I agree wholeheartedly the armature game needs nothing off the RFL the pittance for playing in the challenge cup won’t be a miss

  2. Who runs the Rugby League? Infiltrated agents from the Rugby Football Union? This could cause the biggest schism in the sport since 29th August 1895!

  3. The amateur clubs can vouch for how hard it is to get subscriptions paid in the present climate, it’s been a tough couple of years for them as well as parents. The RFL are in cloud cuckoo land as per usual!

  4. As a volunteer I certainly would not want to be paying a fee to help out kids enjoy a sport they love. I would however if this was put in place I would counter charge the RFL for my time at my going rate per hour which I earn in my employment as its my time I give up freely to coach kids. Surely they really need to think about this idea before they try implementing fees for a grassroot sport

  5. this must be a joke no body wants to play amateur RL look at the state of the amateur game before you start charging to play

  6. Typical RFL coming up with terrible ideas, literally robbing the poor to fund the rich. Amateur Rugby league needs a break away or else there is a real threat that there will be a mass exodus of rugby league players leaving the game they love and enjoy next year. I for one will not continue playing next year if I have to pay RFL for the privilege no matter how small the membership fee is. The RFL is only bottherd about the top clubs and keeping them happy, Leave the amateur players alone!! RFL Do what you get paid for and earn your money through advertising and improving the image of super league and making it more appealing. Taking thousands of pounds each year from grassroots is the not the answer and never will be!!!

  7. The RFL and the amateur sorry ” community ” clubs should split and form their own coalition. I bet the amateurs would make the ELITE look like a right shambkes

  8. £20 to £40 per year isn’t a lot. The funds could be used to support the very programs the kids are playing in. People are acting like this is being forced on Brazil and are being asked to pay a weeks wages each month.

    • Are you a rfl employee, and I take it you are not involved in the grassroot game, otherwise you wouldn’t make a comment like that.

  9. 40 quid to who though? Say an amateur club has 150 members from juniors to open age that’s 6 grand per year going where???? It’s certainly not going to the clubs and programs you speak of.

    6k per amateur club per year into RFLs pocket!

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