While no-one yet knows when the Coronvirus lockdown will be over and games can resume, the National Conference League has published a statement on its provisional plans.
League chair Trevor Hunt says the 2020 season will have to be replaced by a series of Regionalised Group fixtures. There will be no promotion or relegation. It’s hoped that by late July/early August, and pandemic permitting, some local derby games may be possible to get clubs open and players on the pitch. The hope must be that applies to our reserves and junior leagues also.
Stay safe and we’ll let you know when we have any more news. Thanks for your continued support at this time.
Here’s the full statement:
I trust that you are keeping as safe as can be expected and literally weathering the pandemic as best you can. Obviously you are being updated by the RFL on how you may claim rate relief etc to try and maintain your finances and keep your club houses ready for the re-commencement of the season.
These are tough and unprecedented times, and the NCL Management Committee is determined to try and do whatever it can to ensure that when we do get a season underway, that we minimise the outgoings for the clubs at the same time as trying to maximise the incoming revenues wherever we can. The safety and well being of the players plus the sustainability of our member clubs are the main priorities now, and we are working towards undertaking options that will hopefully deliver on those fronts.
To this end we held a Management Meeting on the 14th April (via Microsoft Team) at which we determined certain approach criteria for when we were given the go ahead to commence some form of fixtures. We then waited for further information from the RFL following their talks with HM Govt, which was relayed via the Community Board on Monday 20th April, before awaiting the Govt announcement yesterday.
The reason for these delays were in the hope that there may be an indication that lockdown on sporting events may be lifted, and therefore a possible restart of the NCL would be a potential option on or around June 6th.
I am reliably informed that will not be the case. Early July is being eyed by professional sport as a potential start date, but only behind closed doors, and of course the permission to stage events that will attract more than 500 people will be further down the list. Those would possibly include NCL games. In essence it is unlikely that an NCL season could not recommence until late July or early August, and that needs the pandemic to be conquered first.
Therefore having taken all the above on board, it is with some sadness that the NCL Management has unanimously decided to suspend the 2020 season for one that will be replaced by a series of Regionalised Group fixtures. There will be no promotion or relegation, but by the creation of a number of local derby games, it is hoped that the clubs will be able to maximise revenue from good-sized attendances at the same time saving on the amount of travel that will be required.
There has been much speculation on how the Regional Groupings will be determined and how many fixtures they will provide. That will very much depend on a fixture start date being provided by the RFL in agreement with HM Govt. Suffice to say we have a number of options that give a varying number of fixtures and which are flexible in the way they can be organised to give more or less games as the Pandemic events unfold.
What we will do is provide a meaningful competition that will give the players, coaches and fans something to aspire to, along with an ultimate Championship Final. However, as I say the details will be revealed once we have a commencement date to work towards.
We will of course enable the players two to three weeks to get back into a fitness regime with their clubs ahead of commencing fixtures.
We will keep you informed of any change in the situation as soon as we are able.