BRADFORD Bulls legend Brian Noble thinks half of the rugby league clubs in the country would have gone under if it was not for government support.

In May, the RFL were handed an emergency loan of £16 million to save the game with many clubs falling into financial difficult due to the lockdown.

Chief executive Ralph Rimmer recently said it was likely that “with losses at up to £2million a week, and continued uncertainty, there will be job losses” across rugby league.

Noble, who was associated with Bradford for 28 years both as a player and coach, fears for the games future but does believe it can bounce back like it has done in the past.

He said: "It is a genuinely worrying time for rugby league.

"Without the furlough and financial help from the government, I reckon half of the rugby league clubs would have gone under.

"That’s not me being alarmist, that’s the reality of the finances at the moment. As soon as we can get fans in and clubs up and running again, the better.

"I read a book from Tony Collins about the history of the game since 1895 and this is not the first time the game has come through situations where the money has not been good.

"It has always been the people who have shown their interests in the product and made sure it survived in some way.

"Whilst I am worried, I know that the resilience of the sport and ambition is still there.

"I think it will survive but who knows what shape it will be in."

There was hope that crowds would start coming back to sport at the start of this month, but with the recent increase in infection rates, that date has been pushed back.

Noble feels rugby league is nothing without its supporters and can not see the game returning until they are allowed back in.

The three times Super League-winning coach added: "I can not see any sport continuing without crowds.

"I was watching the rugby in Australia, they are having half crowds and it is brilliant.

"People play sport and respond to crowds. This can not go on indefinitely.

"Next season, there has to be a project which includes crowds otherwise I don’t think sport has the value that people thinks it does."

The Bradfordian also paid tribute to a Bulls great, behind the scenes. During this past week, the club announced the sad passing of former president Colin Tordoff.

Noble has fond memories of Tordoff during a spell with was laden with success.

He said: "Colin was one of the powers behind the throne. He was part of a board of directors who were very ambitious.

"He was old fashioned in the right way and good fun. He had a good sense of humour.

"Whenever I went to the well for a new player he always seemed to find the finances. He was a good bloke. He will be sorely missed."