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The implications of COVID-19 on the world of sport have been stark. Many organizations are struggling financially without the attendance of fans to games. The latest competition under threat is the 2021 Six Nations, which is due to commence at the beginning of February.
The IRFU, along with fellow Unions from the Six Nations, have voiced their concerns over the impact of no fans, or a limited number of fans, may have on next year’s tournament. The English Rugby Football Union (RFU) have estimated a total loss of €65m if spectators are unable to attend their home matches due to COVID restrictions.
Compare this season to the 2018/19 campaign, when the IRFU reported their highest annual income of €87.5m. It is a bleak sign of the times and highlights the importance of the Six Nations to Irish Rugby along with the rest of the nations.
In recent weeks there were plans for a limited numbers of fans to be in attendance at sporting fixtures here in Ireland, as well as in the UK. But the number of current COVID cases has risen leading to a further delay in said plans for the incorporation of fans on match day.
On the back of these reported discussions, Ben Morel, the Six Nations chief executive, reiterated that “we need fans back. We are not about to announce that we are doing this [a delay], but it is one of the options that is there.”
A final decision has yet to be made. In these uncertain times, it is difficult to pinpoint when fans will be back in attendance. However, there is no question that the resultant financial constraints are weighing heavier and heavier on sporting organizations across the globe.