Leeds Rhinos expect to lose £4m as ‘challenges’ of lockdown revealed

A HINT at the full extent of the impact of lockdown was laid out by Leeds Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington yesterday as he revealed the club expect to lose £4m over the next 18 months.

Thursday, 25th June 2020, 1:21 pm

As one of the most successful and best-run outfits in Super League, it is a sobering thought and a reminder of the significant challenges that lie ahead.

The eight-times Super League champions are confident they will be in a good position to resume when the competition – shutdown since mid-March – hopefully restarts in August. But it has now been more than 100 days since the Rhinos’ last scheduled game at Catalans Dragons was postponed and, like at all clubs, the financial effects of coronavirus have been alarming.

Hetherington has been active in the working groups set up by the RFL to work towards the restart of the game which inevitably will be behind closed doors.

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Looking at Rhinos’ situation, he said: “The challenges we face financially are not just for the remainder of this season but will continue in 2021.

“Hopefully, we’ll have a full season with capacity crowds but every club will have to deal with reduced fees from broadcast partners because of the disrupted 2020 season and inevitably some fans will want reimbursing for games missed this season.

“On behalf of everyone at the Rhinos, I’d like to thank all our members, sponsors and partners for their ongoing support of the club.

“The work by the RFL to secure government support for the sport will help but this is a loan.

“However, our current forecast predicts we will lose £4m over the next two seasons but that we are actively engaging with various partners to mitigate those losses.

“There remains a large gap that we have to secure through a team effort by all connected to the club to enable us to not just survive but thrive as we look to kick start a new period of success.”

Rhinos director of rugby Kevin Sinfield echoed Hetherington’s sentiments, adding his pride at the way everyone involved in the club has reacted to the challenge.

Indeed, the seven-time Grand Final winning captain said it left him prouder than at any time wearing the blue and amber.

Leeds Rhinos' Gary Hetherington. Picture Bruce Rollinson

“I was fortunate and privileged during my career to lead this club during some incredible times,” said Sinfield, as preparations are stepped up to hopefully resume training in the coming weeks.

“But I can honestly say the last 100 days have made me as proud of everyone involved with the club as any of those wonderful occasions.

“Whether that is everyone’s commitment to find a way through for the club, the Leeds Rhinos Foundation’s support of charities across our city or the incredible sacrifices of key workers to keep us all safe, many of whom we count amongst our fans and who we will look to celebrate when we are back together.

“The coronavirus pandemic has presented every family with unprecedented challenges and that is true for Leeds Rhinos’ family too.

“On behalf of the players, I’d like to thank our supporters and especially our members who have continued to support the club through their memberships.

“Across the game, it has been heartening to hear fans from every club understanding the key role they have in helping the sport to survive and hopefully thrive in the years ahead.”

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