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Super League players may defer wages to help clubs survive

Players in England could agree to defer part of their wages to help clubs hit financially by coronavirus, says a union official.

All matches have been postponed until at least 3 April due to the outbreak.

St Helens chairman Eamonn McManus has warned the sport "may go out of existence" without government help.

“There's no point making sure everyone gets paid to the detriment of three or four clubs,” said Garreth Carvell, of the Rugby League Players Association.

"That just doesn't make sense.

"We need to make sure that the players are getting a fair crack of the whip and, if that means having maybe deferred payments or something of that nature, it might be something that can be negotiated.“

Rugby league was one of the last major sports in the UK to halt matches after the majority of fixtures took place last weekend.

Since then, eight Leeds Rhinos players and staff have gone into self-isolation after showing possible symptoms of coronavirus, while Hull Kingston Rovers owner Neil Hudgell has predicted most Super League clubs potentially stand to lose about £1m during the shutdown.

“It's a case of trying to keep the game alive while this is going on,” Carvell added.

"We don't know how long it's going to last - that's the other issue.

“It's got the potential to have a massive effect on clubs and the game. These are scary times." 

As well as a lack of revenue from matches, many clubs will also lose out on income from cancelled entertainment events that were due to be staged at their grounds.

Hull KR are due to host live shows at Craven Park, including Westlife and Little Mix, over the weekend of 10-12 July.

"For us in our cash flow, we have three concerts which with the best will in the world, don't look like happening," Hudgell said.

"The best-case scenario is those concerts still happen but nobody is going to buy tickets until the position becomes clearer. The reality is they will be postponed or not happen.

"The deals we have with those three concerts will net us at least £250,000 for those three events, so you can image the size of that hole."

Meanwhile, the club will lose around £150,000 just from the postponement of the derby game with Hull FC on Good Friday.

"The numbers all mount up and we are getting to a very high number by the end of the season,” Hudgell added.

"My guess is most clubs will have at least a million-pound hole by the end of the season. Hence the call for government assistance.

"Regardless of what costs we can trim, they are only going to scratch the surface of what that hole we will be left with will be."

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