Jersey Reds: Championship clubs allocated £9m in UK government sport bailout

Jersey Reds hosted Newcastle in February in their last game before the Championship was curtailed by the pandemic. Credit: ITV Channel TV

Jersey Reds could be a step closer to returning to competitive action after the UK government announced a £300m bailout for spectator sports in England impacted by coronavirus restrictions, including £9m for the Championship.

It comes after the clubs in England's second tier reiterated their desire to commence the league season in January, but only with extra support.

In a statement two weeks ago, they said "their individual financial status does not allow them to meet the costs of currently-required Covid testing or face the prospect of no income going forward due to an absence of matchday crowds".

The 'Sports Winter Survival Package', which will largely consist of loans, will make £135m available to rugby union in England, with the first tranche of funding expected to be distributed in the "coming weeks".

"Sports clubs are the beating hearts of their communities, and this £300 million boost will help them survive this difficult winter period", said Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

Jersey Reds, who are yet to comment on the announcement, last played on 29 February, against Newcastle Falcons at St Peter, before their season was curtailed by the pandemic.

While the Premiership season was able to be completed, and the new top-flight campaign will get underway this weekend, the Championship has been left in limbo.

Meanwhile, the support package also includes £23m for rugby clubs below the Championship, including Guernsey Raiders, who were promoted back to National Two last season on a points-per-game basis.

It remains to be seen whether Channel Islands clubs are eligible for support, with the funding process set to be overseen by an independent decision-making board and supported by Sport England.

Raiders' competitive league season has already been scrapped, alongside all rugby from the third tier down, although the National Clubs Association - which administers the three national leagues - has announced plans for a replacement cup competition.

However, for the Reds and Raiders, any involvement in English competition after Christmas is likely to hinge on some easing of travel restrictions locally or special dispensation being given from the islands' governments.