RFL secures £16m government loan to save rugby league

The Rugby Football League (RFL) has secured an emergency loan of £16m from the government in order to financially stabilise rugby league’s ecosystem after the COVID-19 crisis.

The RFL, in partnership with Sport England and the DCMS, will open its new loan to Betfred Super League, Championship and League 1 clubs based in England though an application process. 

Ralph Rimmer, Chief Executive of the Rugby Football League, stated: “The RFL is grateful to the Government for understanding and acting on the case for the whole sport.   

“In these very tough times for the country and huge demands on Government, this is confirmation of why Rugby League is important – our USP – the sport’s significant social impact in Northern communities in particular.

“Rugby League is not a wealthy sport but is rich in the things that matter most – outstanding sporting and life chances in often disadvantaged communities. The effects of lockdown at the start of our season genuinely threatened the survival of our clubs at all levels and their ability to continue delivering those positive social and economic impacts.”

Rugby League is one of many sports which heavily relies on matchday revenue to fund its teams throughout the season. Due to recent lockdown protocols suspending live-sport and behind-closed door games not financially beneficial to the sport, it has left Rugby League in a precarious position. 

The sport is expected to be a special case in terms of sport organisations gaining government funding due to its social value in mainly northern communities. Moreover, the loan was created to eliminate the risk of the sport being wiped out post-coronavirus.

Steve Barclay, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, added: “Rugby League is a sport that makes a significant social impact in the communities it serves, which is even more important now as we respond to the economic pressures resulting from COVID-19.

“The timing of the Rugby League World Cup next year will also be a fantastic opportunity to build on the sport’s strong track record within these communities, and is an opportunity that this Government’s support will ensure is delivered.”

With the funding, the RFL will now be able to prepare for the sports resumptions along with continuing to develop its current marketing strategies towards the 2021 Rugby League World Cup.