BULLS chief executive Mark Sawyer admits it is a financial battle for all clubs, as they wait to hear if the government will bail out rugby league.

The RFL have sent details to Whitehall to illustrate how hard the sport has been hit by the current suspension and the impact it is having at all levels.

The Bulls recently put all their players and staff on furlough – and are paying a percentage of their wages until that cash aid from the national job retention scheme arrives.

Sawyer said: “Most clubs, if not all, have furloughed their players but as every business will tell you, those payments aren’t going to come through until the back end of May at best.

“It’s a hard task just keeping paying money on your wage roll.

“We’ve paid one pay roll with a percentage of the money. We’re waiting until the furloughed money comes through to top up staff further.

“But at least you’re in a position to keep your staff going.

“We’re busy getting the figures together for this month’s pay as well. But we’re convinced there’s going to be no furloughed money – the portal for registering staff isn’t open yet.

“We’ll get that money back but, at the moment, it’s obviously cashflow with zero coming in. It’s a battle for all clubs.”

The RFL and Super League have been lobbying the government for a relief package, after the game was put on hold a month ago because of the coronavirus pandemic. There has been regular contact in the meantime.

“The RFL have put in their figures with the government about the crisis in rugby league and we’ll have to see what the response will be,” added Sawyer.

“They’ve been to-ing and froing and asking a lot of questions. The RFL think they have a great case to get help.

“Every day we’re closed, it’s making it harder for rugby to get up and running again financially.

“I’m sure the sport will come through in one way or another but there will be a lot of changes. But just keeping it on its feet at the moment is a difficult task.”

The NRL in Australia are trying to return at the end of May in specially-quarantined stadiums, if they get the go-ahead from their government.

But Sawyer stressed that scheduling matches behind closed doors would just make the situation worse for cash-strapped clubs.

He said: “It’s a case of what can be put together because playing behind closed doors isn’t really an option.

“It just wouldn’t be affordable, either for Super League or at Championship level.

“The biggest challenge will be when we do try to restart, with zero income and staff coming out of the furlough scheme. Paying the wages then will be the great test.

“It’s difficult to see how games behind closed doors could work without some sort of financial package.

“We’re not just talking about whether individual clubs will survive. It’s the whole league.”

Sawyer is working with a couple of volunteers to keep the club ticking over at the moment. But he praised the attitude of those who have been furloughed.

He said: “The sad position is that there are a number of players who have lost their other jobs and haven’t been put on the furlough scheme there. There are some at all clubs facing serious hardship.”