Coronavirus Pandemic: UK Government Rugby League Bailout

By Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw

In this Post, we turn our attention to a sport, although played and followed in 70 countries around the world, that we do not usually cover, namely, Rugby League Football. It was created in 1895 in the North of England, and the economic impact that the virus is having on it is proving catastrophic and threatening its very survival.

It has just been announced that the UK Government has approved loans amounting to £16 million to Rugby League in England “to protect an entire sport” as a result of the financial impact of the pandemic.

England is scheduled to stage the 2021 World Cup and the sport has been suspended since 16 March 2020.

The sport is being treated by the Government as a special case because of its social value in communities, mainly in the North of England, and also the risk that the sport faces of being wiped out because of the strict lockdown.

The Rugby Football League Chief Executive, Ralph Rimmer, stated:

“Rugby League is not a wealthy sport. But it is rich in the things that matter most – outstanding sporting and life chances in often disadvantaged communities.”

And he added:

“This support enables the sport to survive, to reshape, to be ready to restart in this our 125th year and to look to a home World Cup.”

This is all well and good, but the bailout may set a precedent for other sports to seek financial help from the Government, at a time when it is shelling out billions of pounds to save jobs and other industries as a result of the pandemic!

Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw may be contacted by e-mail at ‘ian.blackshaw@orange.fr’