Rugby: Clubs may go bankrupt by Christmas, says Premiership boss Childs

(Reuters) - The fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic could see England’s rugby clubs start going bankrupt before Christmas without a government bailout, Premiership Chief Executive Darren Childs said.

FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Premiership - Sale Sharks v Worcester Warriors - AJ Bell Stadium, Eccles, Britain - October 7, 2020 General view of the players entrance at the AJ Bell Stadium, as the match has been called off after members of the Sale Sharks side have reportedly tested positive for coronavirus Action Images/Jason Cairnduff/File Photo

Britain last month postponed plans to allow limited crowds back into stadiums, a decision that hit Premiership clubs hard as they were budgeting for some fans to return for the start of the new season in November.

A coalition of over 100 sports bodies have asked the government for emergency funding, and Childs painted a bleak picture of how soon Premiership clubs could go bust.

"I think for some of the clubs it is before Christmas," he told the Times here. "There cannot be a situation where there isn't an aid package for six months.

“The current projection is that it will be 12 months, from lockdown in March to next spring, before clubs can generate any match-day income.

“The first thing that needs to happen is the government needs to step in and clarify what this bailout is going to look like for us all.”

Childs added that the league was still working to bring supporters back to stadiums.

“I am always concerned about losing a club. We have lost clubs in good times and there has not been a worse time than this for rugby,” he said.

“You have to defer to the experts and the government’s position is that it is not safe to proceed with fans in stadiums.

“I am absolutely convinced that if community prevalence drops over the next couple of months there’s a chance (the return of fans) might get accelerated.”

Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford