ASSURANCES from the UK’s Tourism Minister that he is “hopeful” the government will strike a deal with RFL chiefs are “not good enough”, a Labour MP has said.

Super League and the Rugby Football League seasons have been suspended since March as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Following the suspension, the RFL entered into crisis talks with the government to try and convince it to cover some of the losses the sport will take during the pandemic, with many clubs heavily reliant on match-day revenue.

During ‘hybrid’ proceedings in the House of Commons on Monday, Marie Rimmer, MP for St Helens South and Whiston, sought assurances from the government that it will help clubs through this “crisis”.

“For many Northern towns, rugby league is more than just a sport, it is part of their identity, our culture,” Ms Rimmer, who is secretary of the All-Party Parliamentary Rugby League Group said via videolink.

“Most of the clubs are old enough to have survived through two world wars, but they desperately need our help and support.

“The sport must survive this crisis.

“What will the Minister do to make sure that rugby league is still around for our communities to go back to after coronavirus?”

In response, Nigel Huddleston, Tourism Minister at the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said he was “hopeful we can come to a positive conclusion”.

He added:  “I can give her (Marie Rimmer) the assurance that we are taking the issues very seriously,” the Mid Worcestershire MP said.

“We will continue the dialogue and I’m hopeful we can come to a positive conclusion.”

Speaking afterwards, Ms Rimmer, who turned 73 on Monday, said the government needs to give greater assurances.

The Labour MP added that rugby league clubs “need action before it is too late”.

St Helens Star: Marie Rimmer, MP for St Helens South and WhistonMarie Rimmer, MP for St Helens South and Whiston

Ms Rimmer said: “Quite frankly, the response from the government was not good enough. We need more than being ‘hopeful’ of a solution. Rugby league clubs need action before it is too late.

“They do not have access to the same level of cash as other sports, but that does not make it any less important.

“Rugby league is part of the fabric of St Helens and many other towns and cities. The current crisis will come to an end, and when it does, a huge part of our culture needs to still be there.

“Rugby league needs action now in order to survive.”

A spokesman for the RFL said: “The RFL is grateful for the support and commitment of the All-Party Parliamentary Rugby League Group, reflecting the game’s importance in the communities where it is established – and also for the constructive dialogue we are continuing with government specific to the current situation.”