Coronavirus: Super League eyes August return, wants fans back before season ends


Top-flight rugby league in England is targeting an August return, Super League chief executive Robert Elstone has revealed.

The sport is almost certain to resume behind closed doors, in keeping with many others that are pushing to come back during the coronavirus pandemic.

However, Elstone said Super League officials were also looking at when fans could be allowed back into stadiums, amid claims spectators could be readmitted from October 1 in a best-case scenario.

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A BBC Sport report said plans have been drawn up that could see the season end with the Grand Final on November 28, December 12 or a January date.

Elstone said there was "no off-the-shelf manual" to solve the problems facing Super League, which has been suspended in the UK since mid March.

Clubs saw the season halted early in the campaign, with no team having played more than seven games.

In a letter to supporters, published on Super League's website, Elstone said: "We are now at a stage where we have three advanced models, based around a season restart date of mid-August, differentiated largely on when we expect the season to end.

"These plans will be refined over the short term as we learn lessons from the relaxation of social distancing, the return to work, the restart of other sports and the general trend of virus spread and control.

"Whilst it is as certain as it can be that our restart will take place behind closed doors, what is most important to you and us is when fans will be allowed back into our stadiums.

"Speculation on that date, and there is an absence of any well-informed ‘best-estimates’, has been factored into our fixture planning with a greater number of games scheduled towards the end of the projected season.

"In addition, work has already begun on crowd management in a COVID environment to ensure we're as ready as we can be when the opportunity first arises."

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