Eamonn McManus counts Easter cancellation cost but says rapid return unrealistic
St Helens chairman Eamonn McManus says Super League clubs will feel the impact of postponed matches this weekend more than any other.
Saints’ Easter clashes with rivals Wigan date back to 1906, and today is only the sixth Good Friday since the Second World War when the two clubs have not met.
McManus estimates the fixture is worth around £400,000 to his club as they count the cost of not playing since Sunday March 15.
And while he is desperate for the match to be played at some point this year, he warns that comparisons with the NRL – who on Thursday pledged to return on May 28 – are impossible.
He explained: “Good Friday is the most lucrative fixture in our season by a long way.
“We very much hope that we can still stage this as a home game for St Helens in front of a full house. It’s important not just for us financially but because St Helens-Wigan is vert much part of Super League’s brand, watching the fixture on TV in front of a big house.
“It’s difficult to say exactly how much it is worth to us with season tickets already sold, but if you factored that in plus hospitality and sponsorship you’d be looking at around £400,000.
“The NRL are going to extraordinary levels to return and over there the TV is everything to them. There’s the sheer size of it and the fact that every game is televised so they need to get back to playing even if it’s behind closed doors.
“But it seems there are different infection rates over there and the virus background seems less severe than it had been here.
“We have to look for government guidance first on the lockdown and then on social distancing. When those measures are relaxed we can talk about when we can start restart playing.
“In many ways we’re more badly affected by it than other sports in that we are at the beginning of our season. This would have been much easier to handle if the season finished in May, because we’d only have two months left and then a three-month hiatus anyway.”
McManus has praised RFL chief executive Ralph Rimmer having been a leading critic of the governing body in the past.
He added: “We’re waiting for the outcome of the RFL’s application for government support, and from what I can see Ralph Rimmer and the RFL have done a brilliant job in putting our case forward.
“They identified the likely level of the problem very early in the piece and put together a pretty comprehensive case.
“I will hold my hands up – with the RFL I’ve been a critic of them in the past on occasions, but they have handled this very well.”
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