Toronto Wolfpack launch hardship fund while RFL threatens legal action | Sport

Toronto Wolfpack have launched a hardship fund to support the players and staff who have been unemployed and without pay for seven months as a result of the club’s expulsion from Super League. The move comes as the prospect of legal action against the club regarding unpaid salaries has been raised by the Rugby Football League.

Toronto hope to raise £30,000 to support those whose futures are uncertain after the club were refused readmission to Super League . Many players remain without contracts elsewhere for 2021 and have not been paid since the club pulled out of the current season because of financial problems exacerbated by the pandemic.

“One of the guys I played alongside is delivering dog food for a living,” said Jon Wilkin, the former Great Britain international and current Toronto player. “It’s not funny. It’s been all about infighting between the Rugby Football League and Super League, and I’m bored of it now, because we’ve gone seven months without pay. The narrative of this is how poor Toronto Wolfpack have been as a club but there’s 35 blokes unemployed behind it.”

The governance of the sport and the process that led to Toronto’s expulsion was the primary target of Wilkin and the club’s coach, Brian McDermott, on Monday. The RFL and Super League had opposing views on Toronto’s future; the RFL believed they should remain in the top flight while Super League and its chief executive, Robert Elstone, voted in favour of removing them.

“We’ve got one governing body who wants Toronto and another who doesn’t want them and they’re not speaking to each other,” McDermott said. “There’s two bodies with two different opinions and I really don’t think this is about Toronto. It’s about the governing bodies being in some sort of civil war and Toronto is the stick they’re trying to beat each other with. The whole integrity of the game has been brought into question.”

Super League and the RFL declined to comment on McDermott’s comments. The RFL did confirm it is not ruling out legal action against Toronto concerning the failure to cover player salaries in 2020.

It said: “The RFL have been in dialogue with the club setting out the outstanding sums that are due and reserving the right to take legal action in the event that such sums are not paid. There has been an acknowledgment that the sums are due and therefore it is hoped such legal action will not be necessary.”

McDermott also reiterated the human cost of the decision to reject Toronto’s proposals for readmission. “I’m in debt – I’m unemployed. I would hope the next big decision our sport makes has more transparency to it and is held to account more than this. I need a job: I’ve run out of money.”

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