SAINTS chairman Eamonn McManus recognises the challenges the country faces as it deals with the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on the health and wealth of the nation.

From a Saints point of view he has spelled out the discussions that have been taking place between the sport's governing body and Government, explaining that the season could go on until November when it resumes.

And although - like every other business - he sees a huge challenge ahead, McManus has been touched by the levels of support and coming together at this time.

McManus said: "Every business in the country has got an incredible challenge and in many ways we are privileged to be in a strong financial position where other may not be.

"We have got real challenges but we are handling them very well to date.

"We saw problems as they were evolving and have been able to internally adapt our business."

The shut-down has hit Saints on two fronts. Not only are they a Super League club, but since moving to the new stadium they have been more or less a seven-day-a-week business.

That too is as badly hit as the sports suspension.

"The staff have been quite incredible in facing up to the way that business has changed," he said.

"We are not just a rugby club, but a hospitality and conference business which has clearly been severely hit for the time being.

"People have worked incredibly hard and understand the situation are very supportive of the club to get through the weeks and months ahead which we certainly will."

Saints as a club are relatively strong - the Super League and Championship are made up of less well off teams - and the impact of this pandemic could be devastating.

As for the game as a whole, other clubs are in less of a strong position and the game in its entirety has to look how it gets through the weeks and months ahead.

McManus has been satisfied with the governing body's approach to date.

"The RFL was on top of this pretty quickly in terms of seeing the potential size and open ended nature of the problem.

"It has been in discussions with the Government's Department of Media, Culture and Sport for two weeks.

"The problem is recognised by government and we are not just a sport and business, but part of the community in the north," he said.

The chairman gave an update on how the shutdown and the precautions that have been taken have gone down with the players and staff.

And had a strong message for the supporters, who apart from their own daily concerns are bothered about their town team.

"I'd like to assure fans that as a club and sport are on top of the problem and we are very much working together," he said

"The players have responded to this and they know that these are different times and they understand that the season has to be rescheduled due to a longer close down and it may go into October or even the end of November.

"What we want to do is fulfil as many fixtures as we can and for Super League, the Grand Final and Challenge Cup Final to take place - the great competitions that they are.

"It's about being mentally and physically prepared for that challenge and knowing that there is a vacuum in the weeks ahead before certainty prevails."

In the midst of these troubled times, McManus has been comforted by the warmth of the well wishes and support from the community they serve.

"I'd like to thank the fans for being incredibly supportive, recognising that we as a club have got great challenges ahead.

"It has really been heart-rending to hear the level of support that we have got, particularly from people in this town who have got bigger problems than ourselves.

"It shows how much St Helens rugby league club means to the town," McManus said.

"We are working hard to meet the challenges and we will get through them together.

"We are keeping a sense of perspective and pragmatism and we are very much looking after each other.

"I would like to think as an institution we will look after the town during these times."