“If we can produce content, then we should” – British league edges closer to closed-doors return


RUGBY Football League chief executive Ralph Rimmer has added weight to speculation the sport is one of five talking to the UK government about returning behind closed doors.

Speaking on Sky Sports’ Golden Point internet show, Rimmer seemed to confirm most elements to our previous story about the situation, saying: “if we can produce content, then we should”.

It seems the British government is privately encouraging soccer, rugby union, rugby league, cricket and racing to return to our TV screens before live fans can return to them and that the sports will act en masse rather than make individual decisions, as has happened in Australia where racing has continued and the NRL plans a May 28 comeback.

Asked specifically about playing behind closed doors, Rimmer answered: “We are deeply involved in the thinking on that at a government level and with the other big sports as well. There are several impediments to it. It’s not straightforward and it will be government-led.

“Any sport cannot go out and independently strike out and do it. We have to strike out with the same protocols at the same time and they also include the amount of time the players are allowed to prepare for those behind-closed-doors events.

“…and how they are delivered and how they are staffed and all the medical elements to it as well. It’s highly complex but in the end I think that if we can produce content,  we should. That would be my line

“But nevertheless, it’s not without complication. Ideally, we’d have fans there and we can’t forget, clubs playing games without fans there, that’s a really significant revenue stream gone for clubs.”

Rimmer confirmed a united strategy for all sports was being formatted by the government

“That’s been a large part of my role over the last three weeks. One of the privileges of this position is my access to government and the other big sports, the other big four or five CEO sports, who I speak to on a regular basis.

“My access to government, it’s been three or four times a day for the last three weeks. They’ve been unbelievably supportive, they’ve been fantastic. The DCMS  (Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport) and the Treasury and various members of cabinet as well….

“We’ll see how it eventuates, I’m hopeful of a positive outcome but I cannot thank them enough for their engagement so far.

“If we get out the far end of this, it will be a partnership.”

Rimmer sounded an optimistic note on the possibility of the Super League grand final and Challenge Cup final being played this year.

“I think they will. I’m confident they will. Those to events, which are the biggest in our calendar, are vitally important to this sport,” he said.

“The solutions we’re working on, they’re based on three things. They’re based on keeping the clubs solvent … player welfare, if we get a limited amount of weeks you can’t expect players in our sport to play four times a week …  and integrity.

“I don’t wont us to return with a wimpier.”

Asked about the NRL’s plans, he said: “I speak to Todd (Greenberg, NRL CEO) every week.”



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