The coronavirus crisis means rugby league clubs now have to tackle the biggest battle they will have ever faced, according to Whitehaven chairman Tom Todd.

The Recreation Ground chief stressed that keeping afloat while the sport is on hold is the priority, with rugby league joining football, rugby union, speedway and most other sports in shutting down this week following the latest Government advice regarding social contact and mass gatherings.

Todd said: “It’s often been said over the years that if it wasn’t for the rugby league we would make money! That is now going to be tested.

“Paying the players’ contract money each month is clearly the main outlay.

“There are only two members of our squad who don’t receive a monthly payout.

“The money distributed from the RFL each month will go a good way to meeting that obligation.

“Of course with no matches being played we won’t have appearance money and bonuses to find.

“It does mean, however, we will be looking at our various fundraising schemes more and more.”

Fans are being encouraged, during the suspension of games, to stock up on Whitehaven’s replica shirts and accessories from the club shop.

The season was suspended on Monday until next month but that is likely to be extended and there are fears that it could be June or beyond before there is any chance of a resumption.

The worst-case scenario is that the whole season is wiped out, although with so few games played in Super League, the Championship and League 1, it is highly likely the status quo would be retained for next season.

Whitehaven have not played since last Wednesday when they lost to Dewsbury Rams in the Challenge Cup.

Since then an unnamed Whitehaven player has gone into self-isolation after exhibiting signs of COVID 19.

“We have informed Dewsbury and the Rugby Football League and we are hoping that he has just caught a bad chill,” said Todd.