'A huge blow' - Saints chairman White on Government's fan ban

Saints chairman John White says having no fans inside stadiums until March at the earliest would be 'crippling for the sport in England across all levels'.

Saints chairman John White (right)
Saints chairman John White (right)

There had been plans in place to allow supporters to return to venues from October 1, but those were shelved by the Government earlier this week.

With Covid-19 rates on the rise again, decisions have been made to try to limit the spread of the virus.

And that includes not having supporters back in stadiums until March.

But that will have a huge financial impact across sport, with Premiership rugby clubs facing more huge losses and potential financial oblivion.

Some have already been losing more than £1million a month with no fans inside stadiums since March.

And with no end to that in sight, clubs are wondering how they will pay the bills, with Premiership Rugby desperately seeking a rescue package from the Government.

"We are still working through the full implications of this decision, but clearly this is a huge blow to the club, as well as sport in general," said White, writing in the matchday programme for Tuesday's home game against Sale Sharks.

"While we appreciate the very difficult challenge the Government faces in controlling the spread of the virus while enabling parts of society and the economy to remain open, the prospect of no crowds for the next six months puts further pressure on the club’s finances.

"More broadly, the ruling could be crippling for the sport in England across all levels.

“As such, in partnership with the other clubs, Premiership Rugby, the RFU and other governing bodies, we will be lobbying hard to try to influence Government’s approach.

"We will also be working collectively to accelerate our understanding as to whether any financial support will be made available to sports organisations, and we will actively seek to identify any innovative approaches that may accelerate the return to crowds, such as “rapid result” testing for ticket buyers.

"We remain confident we can continue to weather this challenge in the near-term, but soon we must find a way for spectators to return safely.”