Revealed: Doncaster Knights will not return to league action until fans can attend matches

Steve Lloyd, Doncaster Knights. Picture: Chris EtchellsSteve Lloyd, Doncaster Knights. Picture: Chris Etchells
Steve Lloyd, Doncaster Knights. Picture: Chris Etchells
Championship clubs have voted not to play until crowds can return in some form, Doncaster Knights president Steve Lloyd has revealed.

The second tier competition, which Covid-19 brought to a halt in March, would normally start up again in October.

However, with the Premiership set to return on August 15 with a view to completing the 2019/20 season, there has been speculation that the start of the new season could be delayed until December or even January.

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Such a scenario could potentially kickstart a movement towards professional rugby in the northern hemisphere being played in the summer months.

When the Championship does return, though, games will not be played behind-closed-doors. Discussions are ongoing about the possibility of playing in front of restricted crowds.

Championship clubs were given the green light to return to non-contract training at the start of June but Knights have no immediate plans to take their existing playing staff off furlough leave.

The Championship voted almost unaminously that we wouldn’t return to play until we can earn money and that means people through the gate and metaphorically selling a pint and a pie because that’s our income,” Lloyd, who is also chairman-elect of the Championship Clubs Committee and sits on rugby’s professional game board, told Knights’ in-house media channels.

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“We are sitting back and waiting to go through the various stages of return to play.

“It would have cost us a lot of money and the logistics would have been far too difficult to come back to stages one and two of training – and that’s before you get to match playing.

“Stage three is playing behind closed doors to no crowd whatsoever and the cost of that is obvious.

“We don’t know yet when we’ll get back to playing safely but that return may be restricted crowds.

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“My personal attitiude is if they’re going to restrict it it should be done on a percentage of your registered ground capacity, ours being just over 5,000. So whatever percentage the government set we will pick up on that.

“Whatever people speculate in the press, whatever people want to happen, this is not in the hands of us at Doncaster, it’s not in the hands of the Championship, it’s not even in the hands of the RFU and if you work it out it’s not in the hands of the government, the return to playing a major contact sport like rugby is in the hands of the virus itself.”