Warrington boss warns financial troubles for sport are only tip of the iceberg

Warrington chairman Stuart Middleton has warned that Wigan Athletic’s administration could be the “tip of the iceberg” for sporting clubs.

But the Wolves boss insists that despite an estimated £1.4million shortfall since the start of lockdown, the club will still bring superstar signing Greg Inglis to England next year.

Middleton and club owner Simon Moran have already committed to a seven-figure sum to see the Wolves through the current crisis.

But the chairman – the creative director of Card Factory – admits he worries for other clubs in Super League and beyond.

Middleton said: “Wigan was a bit of a shock as I thought they had some big backers in China and Hong Kong, but I think there will be more to come. With most businesses I think it will be a two to three year issue.

“Certainly rugby league has it hard enough without Covid to break even as a business, and we still need to invest in the sport. I think it’s the tip of the iceberg and there will be a lot more pain to come.

“I am really worried about it because a lot of clubs are run on a shoestring. Clubs that don’t own their own stadium are at an advantage, because we have a stadium that generates a lot of income and that’s gone to zero with no functions on.

“At Warrington we have a turnover of £7.5million, 7,000 members and an average attendance of over 11,000. A lot of clubs don’t have that and it’s a worry.

“I know the sport has a government loan but it is a loan and it’s got to be paid back. We’re hoping we don’t have to use that. We’ll cut our cloth accordingly to get back to normal.

“There’s no doubt about it – myself and Simon will have to put our hands our pockets even deeper.
 But so be it – we want to do the right thing, keep the club here and keep it successful.”

That includes honouring a one-year deal with former Australian Inglis after he decided to come out of retirement for 2021 earlier this year.

Middleton added: “We have a salary cap that we work to and fortunately Greg is not a marquee player on big money – certainly not Sonny Bill Williams money.

“It’s something for our supporters to look forward to, watching these type of players. We’re not planning to make cuts in this area.”

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