THE number of games to be played in Super League will be discussed on Friday following on from the decision to delay the start the 2021 season.

Rugby league's elite competition will now start on March 25, a fortnight later than planned - but the Grand Final date is unchanged at 9 October.

That cannot be put back due to the World Cup taking place in the autumn in England.

A meeting on Friday will discuss whether to reduce the number of fixtures.

Clubs will be balancing a commitment to the broadcaster - and paying supporters - with the logisics of cramming a 27-game fixture card plus a top six play-off into a season with an already delayed start.

Presumably, options would look at Magic - due to return to Newcastle this May - and the additional loop fixtures also up for consideration.

Additional fixtures - or loop fixtures - have been a feature of Super League since 1999 and they were brought in to give clubs additional revenue through more guaranteed home games and more television rounds.

However, they have never been universally popular with fans given it can mean playing the same teams too regularly - particularly if cup games and play-offs are taken into account.

They arguably skew the league table too - as the fixture list can never be totally fair for all teams. 

Some fans have indicated on social media their preference to see loop games go, rather than have a glut of midweek matches.

The possible impact of a heavy load on the international players may also be weighed up.

Meanwhile, Betfred Championship clubs are exploring the possibility of playing matches as double-headers at neutral venues in a bid to get the season under way as soon as possible.

Although the Government has signalled the national lockdown could be eased in the first half of March, it is likely to be some time before spectators are allowed back in to grounds and so matches are set to be played behind closed doors in the early part of the season.

The Rugby Football League is currently negotiating a start date with clubs, having agreed to put it back from February 27 due to restrictions caused by the latest lockdown, and are looking at Easter for the Championship and early May for League 1.

However, clubs could start earlier if they take part in the early rounds of the Challenge Cup, which could get under way as early as the weekend of March 14, with Super League clubs due to enter at the third-round stage a month later.

At their latest meeting, Championship clubs discussed the possibility of staging matches behind closed doors in the way that Super League was played for the last four months of the 2020 season and, according to an RFL source, several volunteered to act as hosts.

Super League's incentive was to fulfil their television contract with Sky and, although there appears to be little appetite by the satellite broadcaster to show Championship action, it could be streamed live on the RFL's Our League platforms.

That would enable clubs to reward season-ticket holders for their loyalty and offset costs by charging other fans on a pay-per-view basis.

Because of the inclement weather in March and April, it is likely clubs with artificial pitches would be chosen to act as hosts, which would point to Widnes and newly-promoted Newcastle Thunder.

London Broncos play on an artificial surface but they are thought to be looking to move from Ealing after being told it would no longer be suitable to host Super League and have already agreed a three-year deal to use Rosslyn Park as their training base.