Barrow Raiders’ league season will be delayed after clubs agreed to put back the start date for the Betfred Championship and League 1, in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

Clubs from both leagues considered a number of options for the 2021 season at a virtual meeting on Wednesday evening.

And it was decided to put the Championship season back by several weeks from the

scheduled start of late February, in recognition of the current public health situation and the likely implications on the return of fans to elite sport.

The Betfred League 1 clubs were supportive of a longer delay to the start of their season, which will now begin later in the spring.

An RFL statement added: “That will also allow a staggered return to training following the pause advised by the RFL last week in response to the latest lockdown, which will also take into account the needs of players to prepare thoroughly after such a long lay-off.”

Championship clubs have been cleared to return from tomorrow but initially only for socially distanced (non-contact) training outdoors – with the intention of moving to contact training permitted, from February 1.

Betfred League 1 clubs will be cleared to begin a similar staged process in February – with all clubs at each level required to satisfy the RFL that that they are able to meet strict conditions regarding testing and biosecurity before they will be able to resume.

Ralph Rimmer, the RFL chief executive, said: “We have been grateful to our clubs throughout the last 10 months for their responsible and constructive approach to such a challenging period for all, and Wednesday’s meeting was another example of that.

“There remains a desire and determination, from the RFL as well as clubs, to get back on the field as soon as is safely possible.

“However there is also a recognition of the need to be responsible at this time.

“A staged return to pre-season training, after the short pause advised last week, followed by a staggered start to the Betfred Championship and League 1 seasons, represents the best way for us to combine this responsibility with other priorities of player welfare and the financial sustainability of our clubs.”