Rugby League

Wakefield boss in hands on approach as RL helps vulnerable in coronavirus crisis

Wakefield chief executive Michael Carter spent Thursday night delivering food parcels to an elderly supporter as rugby league further embeds itself into local communities.

Carter and Trinity had offered to help fans in the vulnerable category during the coronavirus pandemic and have been working through contacting them all.

That has seen club owner Carter personally pitch in with an increasing number of supporters unable to venture out.

Carter said: “We like to think that we’re a big part of the local community. We’ve been checking in and seeing if our older season ticket holders are okay – we’ve not got round all of them yet as there’s around 500 but we’ve made a good start.

“One lady asked if I’d pick a food parcel up for her dad so I nipped it round for him.

“It’s not a big thing but at times like this hopefully we get to see the better side of everybody – this isn’t just a rugby league thing, it’s a being part of humanity thing.

“We’ve all seen videos of people hoarding, but I do think it’s a small minority in this country and everybody else would do anything they could to help their next door neighbour.”

Warrington are among other clubs stepping up their efforts in the local area, including offering free online mental health sessions and ringing elderly members.

Super League referee Chris Kendall is part of a volunteer group in Huddersfield providing help to the vulnerable and Carter says it epitomises the sport as it looks for Government support.

He said: “We’ve just had a report done on the social value our club provides within the community and it was in excess of £1million.

“That’s financial burden being taken away from the NHS and general local council services, and we’re one of the smaller Super League clubs – I imagine Leeds Rhinos’ figure would be three or four times that.

“We do play our part and while I don’t believe the sport has ever been to the Government before to seek help, these are unprecedented times.

“I get that a lot of businesses will be banging on their door and that this is sport, but it’s a sport that helps the community.

“This Government has talked a lot about the northern powerhouse and won a lot of seats in the north in the General Election, and if they want to capitalise on that, rugby league is a hell of an opportunity.

“We are deeply rooted in our local communities.”

Carter says the seriousness of the current situation for clubs has already become apparent at Wakefield.

He added: “I had a very difficult conversation with HMRC this week about deferring our PAYE payment this month.

“Difficult because it’s the first time we’ve had to ask since we brought the club back from the brink of the High Court – we’ve been on time with every single payment for the last seven years.

“Kudos to the Government and HMRC who have been very good in their handling of the situation, because they know we want to make sure all our staff get paid.”

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