Cornish Pirates: Lack of Covid-19 grants 'a big blow' to Championship club

Cornish Pirates
Cornish Pirates have not played a game since they won 30-13 at Ampthill on 14 March 2020

Cornish Pirates chief executive Rebecca Thomas says a lack of grants has made it harder for the club to return to Championship action next month.

The club applied to Sport England's Sport Winter Survival Package to help with their costs as they prepare to play for the first time in almost a year after the Covid-19 pandemic.

But the club have had to take a loan from Sport England rather than a grant.

"The lack of grants is a big blow to us," Thomas told BBC Radio Cornwall.

"But we've tried to look at ways we can manage that; we know that we have huge support out there with fans and it felt right to try and push on and try and overcome that.

"We will be looking to supporters and doing what we can now over the next few weeks to generate funds to cover those increased costs that we haven't been granted the funds for."

Championship clubs face a funding deficit thanks to a combination of no matchday crowds and a cut in central RFU funding that was announced last February.

Ampthill have already said they will 'potentially not be able' to take their place in a shortened Championship season with testing costs alone running into more than £100,000 for each club.

"It has been very difficult for all clubs to work through and get to this place where they feel they can take on either loans or they can raise the funds to be able to participate," added Thomas.

"There's been other factors, even just applying for loans and that set-up has a big impact on club's futures.

"Our future, the stadium, is key to us and we had to make sure we're not shooting ourselves in the foot down the line so we've had a lot of problems to work through to get to this point."

The Championship is due to startexternal-link on the weekend of 6 March with the Pirates in the same pool as Saracens and Jersey Reds.