Written by John Davidson
Catalans Dragons, Toulouse Olympique and Toronto Wolfpack won’t be able to access the £16 million lifeline pledged to rugby league, Rugby Football League boss Ralph Rimmer has confirmed.
The UK government has announced that it will provide an emergency loan of £16 million (AUS$31.1 million) to the RFL to safeguard the immediate future of the sport and help deal with the financial impact of the Coronavirus outbreak. English clubs in Super League, the Championship and League 1 will be eligible to apply for funding.
But French sides Catalans and Toulouse, along with Toronto, are not members of the RFL and will not receive any of the loan money.
Rimmer said there will be “a conversation” in regards to whether the two Welsh clubs in League 1, North Wales Crusaders and West Wales Raiders, will have access to the money, but indicated they are likely to.
“The loan is timely, it will help us reshape and remerge,” Rimmer said.
“We have to make it as last as long as possible. We have to reshape for the future going forward.
“We have to make sure the money is used wisely.”
Rimmer said the emergency loan comes with some “fairly onerous conditions” from the government but declined to reveal the exact terms of how and when the loan will have to be paid back.
“This is absolutely no gravy train,” he said.
“There are conditions to this money.”
Rimmer said not all 34 UK-based clubs in the three professional divisions will receive an equal share, with the money to be dished on a case by case basis dependent on each club’s individual needs.
“The clubs will have to apply,” he said.
“We have a fairly robust formula in place. There will be due diligence required. It won’t be a straight line. We will be audited by the government.”
Rimmer said amateur clubs in England will not have access to the emergency loan as they have already received government assistance through other schemes.
“It won’t go to community clubs because their needs have been satisfied through other initiatives with Sport England,” he said.
“Community clubs are separate to this.”
The RFL chief executive admitted the Ashes series actually taking place at the end of 2020, as originally planned, remains in grave doubt.
“We have to ensure the game survives globally,” Rimmer conceded.
“There won’t be a perfect solution, it’s impossible to satisfy everybody.”