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Government loan points to a very different future for rugby league | Aaron Bower

The £16m secured by the RFL appears modest but reflects the precarious nature of club finances when fans have to stay away

At first glance, the numbers do not seem that terrifying. While other mainstream sports predict the financial cost of Covid-19 will run into the hundreds of millions, last week’s news that the Rugby Football League has secured a £16m loan from the government suggests it is in reasonable shape – in need of assistance rather than full-blown emergency intervention.

But take even a modest journey through this sport, whose roots remain firmly embedded in northern, working-class towns and you learn this money was absolutely essential to protect it from going under. Indeed, that was outlined to clubs in a recent email from the RFL. “The sport faces a genuine threat to its future,” it read.

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