On Sunday evening Boris Johnson addressed the nation with his roadmap to get England out of lockdown. There has been a lot of reaction in terms of the clarity of the message but to me it is clear that they are taking baby steps, taking time to see if there is an adverse reaction and then taking more baby steps.

In terms of the impact for rugby league, more will become apparent to me when I join an RFL conference call later in the week. Reading between the lines it seems there is a possibility of games being played behind closed doors as early as June. The topic of behind closed doors games has been discussed in previous RFL meetings. Clearly Sky TV wants something for their money. They have invested a lot of money but are now losing subscribers at an alarming rate and they know that many of them will not come back on the same packages as before. The threat to rugby league clubs is that if they don’t provide content then there is a good chance that Sky will reduce the investment. Let’s be honest without the TV money the game is in trouble, certainly for the fully professional Super League.

For The Championship and League One we have also been asked the question as to whether we could afford to play behind closed doors. We are very keen to complete the season so we have replied that we could perhaps afford a couple of home games but the whole season behind closed doors would likely stretch our finances beyond breaking point.

The roadmap from the PM seems to suggest that pubs and restaurants could open in July and I’m taking that as a signal that we could possibly play rugby league in front of crowds. Certainly with a bit of work and common sense I’m sure our ground could be adapted to ensure social distancing. The record crowd is over 20,000 so I’m sure we could have 1,500 people well-spaced out if required. The virus seems to be less formidable in outdoor environments so I’m expecting outdoor sports to return quicker than other things although we do need to understand how players and support staff contact is controlled. Will we be doing mass testing or temperature checks of our staff? Let’s hope that in the next few weeks that everyone follows the guidelines. The PM is hoping the public show some common sense and with that the infections virtually disappear.

When we do return, the board will need to focus on the financial aspects of the club. We have taken back ownership of the advertisement boards on Hindpool Road after a period of 21 years. The area has becoming the busiest place in the town, so those boards are in a prime location. I hope that you all have seen the tribute we have done for our keyworkers and we are hoping that businesses can see the impact. We also have a planning application to go digital with the council and this could be a game changer in terms of our income streams. Let’s hope the application is approved.