Bedford Blues will soon start preparations for their delayed 2020-21 season in the second tier of English rugby after an announcement from the Championship stating they are aiming for a January start.
With the news that rugby in steps three and below had been shelved for the season, speculation had been starting to spread about the fate of this season’s Championship games.
However, the RFU have released a statement on behalf of the Greene King IPA Championship, saying they intend to begin the season in January as originally anticipated.
The statement, released this evening (Thursday) outlined the importance of getting it right in time for the January kick off.
“Much discussion and preparation is being undertaken within the league, in conjunction with the RFU, to play a meaningful league programme”.
“But the detail of those discussions must, of necessity, remain confidential and any public debate is, for the present, mere speculation.”
“The Championship clubs will continue to work closely with the RFU to explore a financially viable route forward for all clubs, and will make decisions and announcements accordingly.”
With clubs already facing financial hardship due to the RFU cutting their funding, the possibility of hosting games behind closed doors has been unviable.
Although that decision was eventually loosened, with clubs facing cuts over two years instead of one, Championship clubs were unable to host games; the added cost of the required COVID testing also proving a step too far.
This comes as MP for Bedford and Kempston, Mohammad Yasin, asked the Government for additional funding today.
“Tier 2 rugby clubs will not make it through the pandemic without financial assistance”, he said in the House of Commons, asking for a £1million package from the Government.
Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, acknowledged the challenge that sport is facing, and told Mr Yasin “we are working with the Treasury on what further support may be necessary.”
However, presuming that the lockdown lifts and fans are allowed back in, Championship officials and the RFU are confident of playing out a truncated season.
No one will be more eager to go than the Blues community; the staple of many a Saturday afternoon at Goldington Road with many fans keeping their fingers crossed for more luck in the new year.