Super League may have to extend the season into next year to fulfil contractual obligations and the Challenge Cup final may have to move from Wembley.
Many within rugby league believe a season that is six weeks old will have to be dramatically altered or extended when Super League is given the green light to restart.
The Leeds chief executive, Gary Hetherington, admits that with the Grand Final being held in October, it may now be 2021 before this season can be concluded.
“It’s inevitable we will have to extend the season; that may go to November, December or even beyond that … who knows,” he said. “We’ve got to do whatever it takes to make this work and that may have an impact on the 2021 season, too.”
Hetherington added: “I think there’s a good chance the cup final will have to be played on a different date. We’d have to find a new date and, who knows, maybe a new venue.”
He also warned there can be no complaints regarding player welfare when the season restarts and players are asked to play far more frequently than usual. “We have a rule where you can’t play any earlier than five days after your last game but that’s going to have to go out of the window. We will have to be playing three times a week.
“I’ll be disappointed if I start hearing people whinging and using player welfare as an issue when it isn’t. Player welfare is serious; it relates to stress, anxiety and mental health but we’re talking about playing sport and rugby league is a tough sport.”
Some Super League executives have suggested relegation may have to be postponed owing to the extraordinary circumstances the sport finds itself in but Hetherington, who confirmed the majority of Leeds’ 150 players and staff have been furloughed, is keen to avoid that.
“I see it as a vital component of our competition,” he said. “We saw last year how much drama promotion and relegation can add, and our competitions need to have as much as drama as possible. We certainly don’t want to be doing anything that will take away a level of interest. However, if the season is disrupted it becomes an issue and we need to be mindful of that.”
Hetherington also said the remaining rounds of the Challenge Cup – there are 16 teams left – could be an opportunity for rugby league to provide some live sport for the country in the weeks ahead.
“We’re talking hypothetically because there’s so much uncertainty but we’ve got eight round-six ties to play and they could all be behind closed doors over a weekend,” he said.
“It could provide an opportunity for the game. If we were to be a sport providing live action when nobody else is, well that’s an opportunity for rugby league to showcase itself.”