THE Rugby Football League will receive a £16million cash boost to safeguard the immediate future of the sport.

The emergency loan from the Government will help the sport deal with the financial impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

The RFL will administer this funding, in partnership with Sport England and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. All Super League, Championship and League 1 clubs based in England are eligible to apply.

Steve Neale, chairman of Barrow Raiders, said: “The loan was given to the RFL as the world cup is coming up soon and because it was recognised what rugby league does for communities in northern towns.

“£16million coming in can’t be a bad thing.

"At the moment we are financially viable so maybe we would not be eligible for this because there are other clubs that are struggling, but it would be a shame if this means we will miss out on funding because we are running our finances well.

“We are alright for the moment as we have the job retention scheme that is running until June. If that is not extended that could potentially be a problem for us.

“We may not need the help but we have got to think about our finances long-term. Will sponsors and fans want refunds if the league does not continue? There is a potential for a lack of income in the future if the season tickets and sponsorship deals are carried over until next season also.

“The provisional plans at the moment are to restart in July but that is still unclear at the moment.”

The season remains suspended with no return date set as the virus continues to impact around the world.

Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said: “This is a massive shot in the arm to secure the survival of rugby league.

“We recognise that many RFL clubs operate on very tight financial margins.

"Without their ability to stage matches with spectators and despite the Government’s extensive economic package, the professional game has come very close to collapsing.

“From my first sports visit as Secretary of State to Leigh Centurions, I could see how important these clubs are to the communities they serve.

“They are the beating heart of their towns and cities, and their impact goes far beyond what happens on the pitch.

“Sports across the board are facing unprecedented pressures, and we are supporting them through wider Government measures.