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Soccer News

Rugby-Six Nations considering delayed start to 2021 edition due to lack of fans

Oct 7 (Reuters) - Six Nations organisers are considering moving next year’s Championship in order to allow it to go ahead with fans as unions struggle to deal with the financial impact of staging games behind closed doors, chief executive Ben Morel said.

The 2020 tournament is set to conclude in October after being postponed in March due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, with the 2021 edition scheduled to begin next February.

England’s Rugby Football Union has projected a 138 million pounds ($178.09 million) reduction in revenue if fans are not allowed to attend next year’s Championship, while its Welsh, Irish and Scottish counterparts are also anticipating major losses.

“We have to look at everything right now,” Morel told the Times. “We need fans back. We are not about to announce that we are doing this, but it is one of the options that is there,” he said, referring to the possibility of delaying the Championship.

“It is not straightforward and there would be no guarantee that you’d get a better situation. I wish that moving the Six Nations would solve all this, but you cannot say that.”

England were hoping to have at least 20,000 fans at Twickenham Stadium for their matches at the eight-team Autumn Nations Cup but the government put on hold plans for 25%-33% capacities as part of new restrictions to tackle a second wave of COVID-19.

“The discussion is in light of the bigger picture of how we can bring fans back in some capacity in a safe way. Our rugby economy needs it. Everybody has to look at every single option to see what is best,” Morel said. ($1 = 0.7749 pounds) (Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru Editing by Robert Birsel)

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