THE shutdown to the rugby league season has left many clubs on a financial tightrope, and has led to talks of restructuring the current system.

Tony Smith, coach at Hull KR, has spoken out recently about how the break could be a chance to reset and create a new future for the sport, with a focus on talent production. He believes this will create a more sustainable future.

Chairman of Barrow Raiders, Steve Neale, believes that his club are on the right track with their community approach, which is one reason why they are "not panicking" during the coronavirus shutdown.

“I think what Tony Smith is alluding to is the players' wages, which is one of the reasons a lot of clubs will now be walking this financial tightrope.

“If it had not been for government help, I think we would have seen a number of clubs going to the wall.

“I do think there should be something done about it as clubs are very team focused and are under pressure to have a good team, as success on the pitch is what brings in the money.

“What happens a lot of the time is that clubs look at the money they have left over at the end of the year, and spend it on players.

“We need to look at opportunities to grow the game, especially at the grassroots level, as getting more people involved in the game is what drives the conveyor belt of talent coming through.

“More money in that aspect of the game could spiral upwards to the higher leagues.

“This has been a real eye opener for the teams that are struggling financially I think. We have been alright as we have been quite prudent with our spending.

“Some teams have been living week to week, relying on the intake from the gate on game day, and on my conference calls this week with other clubs.

“Funding for the sport did get cut a few years back, which was really felt at the grassroots level. Thankfully the RFL has realised this issue and have started giving us more funding to grow the game in the community.

“In the long-run we are building ourselves to be a community based club, which in turn should help us bring in bigger crowds and get more people playing the game. In that sense I agree with Tony Smith that we should be focused on growing the game.

“We are quite lucky here though to have some great community teams, so we are in a great starting position. Other teams in the league would love to have what we have here in Barrow.

“We are not panicking, and I think we are taking the right approach.”