RUGBY league’s very existence is on the line due to the impact of Coronavirus.

That was the stark message hammered out by Saints chairman Eamonn McManus on BBC Radio Four’s Today programme this morning.

With Super League clubs meeting today to discuss the options – from suspending the competition to going behind closed doors - McManus has called for Government to look at giving financial backing.

Football’s Premiership and the Championship have already suspended their competitions, rugby union is likely to follow suit.

Rugby League’s position has been to follow Government advice – but that may change due to the assessment on reducing large gatherings.

Speaking this morning McManus said: "There's huge financial implications, the very existence of our sport is on the line.

"Government has to look at a degree of support for our sport.

"We're different to soccer, probably different to rugby union, we're at the beginning of our season, this is open-ended both in time and terms of quantum, no-one knows the full extent of it."

Although current champions Saints are better placed than most rugby league – given their ownership of the ground and strong supporter base, they will not be immune to the financial shock that could come if the competition is halted or if the spectators have to be shut out.

It would leave so much up in the air – with players and staff needing to be paid and clubs still racking up operating costs – but with no income.

And that is before the question of refunding supporters comes into play.

It would be even bleaker for all those Super League clubs that apparently live such a hand-to-mouth existence that the league formulates loop fixtures to sustain them as viable top-flight challengers.

McManus added: "St Helens is probably in the best financial position of any rugby club in the country.

"We've got our own stadium, we've not got a penny of debt, we're profitable.

"But we have a very high cost base, and if your income evaporates overnight - and that could well happen - certainly the match day income will."