Bath battle on but fear worst as plug pulled
RUGBY BOSSES CALL FOR BAILOUT
ENGLISH rugby turned to the Government for a cash bailout after being forced back behind closed doors last night.
Hours before 1,000 fans were due to watch Bath’s stunning come- from- behind win over Gloucester in the next step towards crowds returning, the plug was pulled.
With spectators now set to be shut out for another six months, Premiership chief executive Darren Childs spoke of “irreparable damage” and RFU boss Bill Sweeney admitted there would be “severe consequences” across the sport.
Sweeney, right, said: “With no fans this autumn, we will see a £ 122million reduction in revenue resulting in a loss of £ 46m.
“And with no fans for the Guinness Six Nations, we will see a £ 138m reduction in revenue with a loss of £ 60m.”
He added that Premiership and Championship clubs faced “significant financial hardship” and that community clubs, set to lose £ 86m this season, were now “under threat”.
“From the outset we have been clear that an autumn without crowds would leave us with little choice but to approach Government for financial help,” said Sweeney. “Unfortunately, we are now in that position.
“Without support port we are in danger er of clubs at the e heart of communities across England, as well as the players and volunteers, disappearing forever.”
At an empty Rec, it was Bath’s play- off hopes that were in danger of being killed off when former club favourite Matt Banahan put Gloucester 20- 3 ahead on the hour. The big full- back rounded off a dazzling move, initiated by Jake Polledri, to add to Chris Harris’s equally smart fifirst first- half opener.
Bu But Bath refused to giv give up on their season and, in front of Lions coach Warren Gatland and England counterpart Eddie Jo Jones, produced an asto astonishing recovery to claim l i maximum points. Tom Dunn did his hopes of a Test call- up no harm by sparking the revival with two quickfire tries before Lewis Boyce came off the bench to add a third. With two minutes remaining, scrum- half Ben Spencer raced away to bag the bonus point and send Bath second behind Exeter with one game to play – at Saracens on Sunday week.
It was just a crying shame there were no fans to celebrate it.
“This was like the Golden Ticket,” said Bath chief executive Tarquin McDonald.
“We are gutted for those supporters.”
BATH – Tries: Dunn ( 2), Boyce, Spencer. Cons:
GLOUCESTER – Tries: Harris, Banahan.
Pens: Twelvetrees ( 2).