Barrow Raiders Chairman Steve Neale has sympathised with the Toronto Wolfpack’s employees.

The Canadian club launched a crowdfunding campaign on Monday.

This comes after the club revealed that its workers had gone months without being paid.

“The players were innocent victims,” Mr Neale began.

“Even though the majority of them were English players, because they were based in Canada, they were not entitled to any of the government schemes.

“So basically, the players, they have all got mortgages and families like everyone else, could not access the Job Retention Scheme and the club itself were not entitled to any of the grants that all the other clubs have had.

In July, Toronto Wolfpack were forced to withdraw from their inaugural season in the Super League due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

The Mail:

This month, their bid to re-join the league was rejected by Super League clubs.

However, Mr Neale believes this was the wrong decision.

He explained: “I think given the global pandemic and the amount of disruption throughout the whole of the year and making travel to Canada impossible, they were unable to host games.

“I thought in the interest of expansion they should be given a second chance.

“I am not privy to their financial package that they presented to the governing body, but my gut feeling was that they should be given a chance to go again.

“I think they’ve done a tremendous job in Canada, attracting 10,000 fans to their games, and I think it was a short-sighted decision to not allow them to take their place in the Super League going forward.”

In addition to the Toronto Wolfpack, fellow Canadian side the Ottawa Aces have deferred their entry to the Raiders' division, Betfred League One, for another year.

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In light of this, Mr Neale insists it is necessary that rugby league expands.

He said: “Obviously the clubs in Canada need to put a business plan together that allows them to be sustainable.

“Football and rugby union haven’t been afraid of expansion and for the long term sustainability of the game and attracting broadcast partners, which is where all the money is, I think we need to expand beyond the British Isles.”