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Saints chairman hails government’s emergency loan to rugby league

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SAINTS chairman Eamonn McManus has welcomed the government’s £16m emergency loan to rugby league.

The Rugby Football League emergency loan is meant to safeguard the sport’s immediate future for the communities it serves.

The influx of money will help the sport cope with the extreme financial impact of the COVID-19 outbreak as the season remains suspended, due to social distancing measures.

It precedes England who will host the Rugby World Cup next year.

The Saints chairman says the loan allows the clubs to be able to ‘save themselves’.

He told BBC News: “Sport was in real and genuine danger of disappearing.

“What we have here is a bridging loan for the sport to put us in a position where we can really streamline, reorganize and save ourselves.”

The RFL will administer the funding, in partnership with Sport England and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

All RFL Super League, Championship and League 1 clubs based in England can apply. Further details on when the fund will open and how clubs can apply will be announced by the RFL in due course.

Ralph Rimmer, chief executive of the Rugby Football League, said: “The RFL is grateful to the government for understanding and acting on the file for the whole of sport.

“In these very difficult times for the country and huge demands from the government, it confirms why Rugby League matters – our USP – the significant social impact of the sport in northern communities in particular.

“Rugby League is not a rich sport, but it is rich in the things that matter most – exceptional sporting and life opportunities in often disadvantaged communities. The effects of lockdown at the start of our season have truly threatened the survival of our clubs at all levels and their ability to continue to produce these positive social and economic impacts.

“This support allows the sport to survive, reshape and be ready to restart in this 125th year. And look forward to a home World Cup next year and a legacy for our communities.

“Watching and playing sport together, including Rugby League, has a role to play in the nation’s recovery. We are part of this national sporting landscape. In the meantime, we continue to work at the heart of our communities, helping everywhere where we can.

Steve Barclay, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, concluded: “Rugby League is a sport which has a significant social impact in the communities it serves, which is even more important now that we are responding to the economic pressures resulting from Covid. -19.

“Next year’s Rugby World Cup schedule will also be a fantastic opportunity to build on the strong record of sport within these communities, and it is an opportunity that the support of this government will secure.”