Rugby league clubs now have to tackle the biggest battle they will have ever faced.

Keeping afloat while the sport has been shutdown is the only priority at all levels.

Whitehaven chairman Tom Todd said: “It’s often been said over the years that if it wasn’t for the rugby league we would make money! That is now going to be tested.

“Paying the players’ contract money each month is clearly the main outlay. There are only two members of our squad who don’t receive a monthly pay out.

“The money distributed from the RFL each month will go a good way to meeting that obligation.

“Of course with no matches being played we won’t have appearance money and bonuses to find.

“It does mean, however, we will be looking at our various fund-raising schemes more and more.”

Fans are being encouraged, during the suspension of games, to stock up on Whitehaven’s replica shirts and accessories from the club shop.

Ironically the suspension comes at a time when coach Gary Charlton had made a renewed plea for more support through the Whitehaven turnstiles.

Attendances have been poor in the early Championship games with particularly sparse crowds for the last two home games.

There were just over 500 for the visit of a very good Toulouse side who now lead the table and a paltry 400 or so for the Challenge Cup game with Dewsbury.

“I can’t believe that fans are so fickle and are only interested in following a winning team.

“We topped 1,000 and had other healthy gates at the end of our successful League One campaign. Where have they gone?

“We are playing better teams in a higher standard and the fans don’t support us.

“The only way we can match these top sides is if we can generate more money through our crowds so that we are able to go out there and recruit accordingly,” said Charlton.

The season was suspended on Monday until April 14 but that is likely to be extended and there are fears that it could be June or beyond before there is any chance of a resumption.

The worst case scenario is that the whole season is wiped out, although with so few games played in Super League, the Championship and League One, it’s highly likely the status quo would be retained for next season.

Since theCup defeat to Dewsbury, an unnamed Whitehaven player has gone into self-isolation after exhibiting signs of the coronavirus.

“We’ve informed Dewsbury and the RFL, and we’re hoping he’s just caught a chill. It was a horrible night for the tie,” said Todd.