Northamp­ton say five club em­ploy­ees are self-iso­lat­ing

The Guardian - - Sport Cricket - Robert Kit­son

The un­cer­tainty and financial pres­sure caused by the shut­down of all rugby is al­ready prompt­ing con­cern, with Northamp­ton re­veal­ing that five of their em­ploy­ees are now self­iso­lat­ing amid ris­ing anx­i­ety about mul­ti­mil­lion-pound losses should the Premier­ship fail to restart this sea­son.

The Saints chief ex­ec­u­tive, Mark Dar­bon, said one player, one back­room staff mem­ber and three non-per­for­mance staff mem­bers were now self-iso­lat­ing, al­though none have yet tested pos­i­tive for coro­n­avirus. The play­ing squad have all been stood down for three weeks and supplied with bor­rowed gym equip­ment to al­low them to work on their fit­ness at home.

As yet talk of re­dun­dan­cies re­mains pre­ma­ture but Dar­bon ac­knowl­edged the po­ten­tially se­vere financial im­pli­ca­tions of a pro­longed hia­tus “is right at the top of our minds” fol­low­ing the sus­pen­sion of the league for a min­i­mum of five weeks.

“Where things be­come re­ally chal­leng­ing for us is if we be­gin to lose matches,” said Dar­bon. “We make be­tween £300,000-£400,000 out of each game and have four home games re­main­ing this sea­son be­fore you think about the im­pli­ca­tions on our wider busi­ness. It’s a huge con­cern. We are a loss-mak­ing club so a sig­nif­i­cant hit is a real chal­lenge.

“There is a shared am­bi­tion to get our com­pe­ti­tion com­pleted. Our strong pref­er­ence is to get things fin­ished this year and move on to the next one with­out dam­ag­ing that too.”

With con­certs and other big events sched­uled for Franklin’s Gar­dens this sum­mer and some clubs un­able to stage home matches in July and Au­gust, how­ever, it will be dif­fi­cult to pro­long the sea­son be­yond the end of June, when play­ing con­tracts are also due to ex­pire.

Mean­while in South Africa it has emerged that Pi­eter-Steph du Toit, World Rugby’s cur­rent player of the year, al­most had to have a leg am­pu­tated after suf­fer­ing a seem­ingly in­nocu­ous in­jury play­ing for the Storm­ers last month. Luck­ily for the 27-year-old Spring­bok loose for­ward, the Storm­ers’ team doc­tor Ja­son Suter sus­pected that a haematoma suf­fered by the player had de­vel­oped into acute com­part­ment syn­drome which blocks the sup­ply of blood to the leg.

▲ Northamp­ton chief ex­ec­u­tive Mark Dar­bon wants to com­plete this sea­son

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