Edinburgh head coach Richard Cockerill believes the continuation of crowdless games and vanishing revenues due to Covid-19 will mean a bleak future ahead for the professional game.
Speaking ahead of his team’s 2020/2021 PRO14 opener against the Ospreys at Murrayfield on Saturday, Cockerill said everybody who are earning a living from the will be worried about their future livelihoods.
“I think there is a threat to professional rugby worldwide, never mind in Scotland,” he told the Scotsman. “It’s a difficult one to answer. Clearly, like us all, you guys [media] report on it. If there’s nothing to report on we’ll just be sat here [on Zoom] having quizzes won’t we?
“We’ve got to have income. If you’re not producing any money then you can’t have a professional game, so it’s obviously a concern at the back of everybody’s mind, players and coaches and the game at large. We’ve just got to keep doing our jobs and putting a good product on the field.”
The loss of Scotland’s planned November Tests against New Zealand, Argentina and Japan is set to cost Scottish Rugby around £12 million in revenue.
This year’s Six Nations, which was cut short by Covid-19, will be concluded ahead of the hastily-arranged Autumn Nations Cup – a competition which will involve Scotland, England, Wales, Ireland, France, Italy, Fiji and Georgia.
The RFU were hopeful of getting 30,000 spectators to watch their games at Twickenham but those hopes have dwindled after restrictions were re-imposed in the UK following a surge in Covid-19 cases in the UK. Scotland’s final Six Nations Test against Wales is now scheduled to be played in an empty stadium in Llanelli, which has since been placed under local lockdown.
“If we get to the  Six Nations and there are no crowds then it is clearly going to be an issue, and then we have to readjust what we do, and who gets paid what, and who does what,” said Cockerill. “It won’t be unique to me and this team, it will be the same for us all, unfortunately.”
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