The Rugby Football League are looking at starting the Championship and League 1 seasons by the first week of March behind closed doors.
The first week of March, or possibly earlier, has been identified as a possible target date following an informal survey of clubs.
A recent meeting of clubs confirmed that although Government advice is currently that crowds will not be permitted until April, there is a shared desire to return well before that.
The RFL are liaising with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) and other sports regarding a roadmap for an earlier return to first socially distanced and limited crowds, safely building to increased crowds, and has forwarded a proposal for this to DCMS.
RFL chairman Simon Johnson said: “The recent announcement that spectators would not be permitted to return to sport was a blow to these clubs, as it was to those in the Betfred Super League, as the return of spectators was key to the plans for the resumption of the Betfred Championship and League 1 competitions as soon as possible this winter.
“However the mood among those clubs is that they must continue to work towards a return as soon as possible. The players and coaches are desperate to get back – as are their supporters.
“At the moment, we are led to believe crowds will not return until April. But as we have seen, these things can change – and with the Our League app, we do have the ability to provide coverage of matches direct to supporters even when crowds are not permitted in the grounds.”
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