Doncaster Knights president Steve Lloyd on rugby union's crisis and when the 2020/21 Championship season might start

Rugby union clubs have received the double blow of being told no fans for six months and no games below the top two divisions until January.

Monday, 5th October 2020, 9:22 am
Doncaster Knights are no nearer discovering when the 2020/21 season will get underway - and if indeed it will. Photo: Blueline Photography

The entire sport is in peril, from international bodies all the way down through professional and amateur rugby, right through to junior colts.

Firstly, the Government said fans would not be able to return to sporting fixtures for another six months due to the ongoing fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

That prompted a stark warning from Bill Sweeney, chief executive of the Rugby Football Union, in which he said:

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*With no fans this autumn the RFU will see a £122m reduction in revenue resulting in a loss of £46m;

*No fans for the Six Nations will see a £138m reduction in revenue with a loss of £60m thereby preventing investment in areas such as the women’s elite game and community rugby;

*Premiership and Championship Clubs will face significant financial hardship;

*Community rugby will lose an estimated £86m in revenue this season.

Then the RFU revealed that no games below the Championship would be played until January at the earliest, effectively mothballing community rugby for the rest of the year.

That would mean only one Yorkshire club in Doncaster Knights of the Championship could potentially play this side of new year.

Here's how Knights president Steve Lloyd reacted when we caught up with him:

“Everybody’s had funds dropped because the RFU’s lost a lot of its funding,” said Lloyd.

"If they have no Twickenham they have no incoming funds and no crowds applies whether it’s Championship, Premiership or the RFU. We’re not getting exercised by that.

“They have their problems to deal with and we respect those.

“At Doncaster, we’ve got a squad recruited and some of those are on furlough but, by the end of October, we need to see a route forward from that. We’re in position to go.

“We just need the green light. Whether that will be as soon as we wish, time will tell.

“If we are to start playing in the new year – which seems the most likely scenario – we need a couple of months pre-season preparation for that which is the beginning of November.

“We’re trying hard to do that but it’s not in Doncaster’s hands, the RFU’s hands or even the Government’s hands; it’s in the virus’s hands.

"That will decide what we can and can’t do.

“I hope and think we will come through intact. I’ve been around long enough to know the old phrase ‘out of adversity comes strength’ is quite true. We’ll regroup and deal with the problems in front of us.

“What shape the game will come out in who knows but hopefully it will be a bit more financially prudent.

"We still struggle with the relative newness of professional rugby and the costs of it and we have to be realistic about that. Let’s get back to realism.”

Lloyd has previously stated that Championship clubs are in agreement that the competition cannot operate behind-closed-doors.