The pandemic has had a severe economic impact on sport at all levels.
Championship rugby clubs have struggled to survive the pandemic, but there is now light at the end of the tunnel after plans to start the 2021 season were announced.
Having had little to no income for the last nine months, many Championship clubs do not have the financial might to meet the costs of COVID testing required under the elite sport framework.
The delayed date of the season will hopefully give clubs time to organise their financial situation and allow them to take part. They are in a discussion with the RFU to try to find the best solution for all involved and enable as many clubs as possible to conclude the season. This also allows clubs to gain greater clarification from Sport England regarding the Sport Winter Survival Package.
Coventry Rugby confirmed at the start of this month that they will take part in the upcoming season, despite the economic difficulties presented by the pandemic.
However, they have made clear the precarious financial situation they are in. The Winter Survival Package will provide some support, but does not go far enough to ensure financial stability or security.
Unfortunately, not all teams will be able to partake in the rearranged season. London Scottish have opted out after rejecting the government loan. The club explained that the loan package would put their long-term finances in even greater jeopardy.
We do not believe the solution to short-term losses is taking on long-term loans
– Malcom Offord
Club chairman Malcolm Offord stated: “Unfortunately, we have been offered loans, not grants, to help us survive Covid. Much as we all desperately wish to see London Scottish competing on the pitch, we do not believe the solution to short-term losses is taking on long-term loans.”
Fellow Championship side Ampthill have also rejected the government loan. They still hope to take part in the season, but are attempting to fundraise enough money to cover the costs of Covid testing.
It is bittersweet news that the Championship season is going ahead, as it will be lacking many of the league’s biggest clubs.