WARRINGTON Wolves chief executive Karl Fitzpatrick says work is intensifying to resume a 2020 rugby league season that will almost certainly be extended from its scheduled October finish.

This is in response to the Goverment's recent plan for gradual, small steps in the easing of coronavirus lockdown measures including a desire for bringing back live sport at the top level no sooner than next month.

Step 1 has seen people being able to resume playing sports such as fishing, golf and tennis in a safe way that still involves social distancing.

The 50-page Government document that maps out what may be possible in the future includes in step 2, for consideration not before June 1: "Cultural and sporting events will be able to take place behind closed doors for broadcast from next month, avoiding the risk of large-scale social contact."

A Betfred Super League statement says clubs have welcomed the latest advice on the route to a resumption of the 2020 season – and have reaffirmed their determination to do everything necessary to be ready to stage matches this summer and, as soon as it is safe, in front of fans.

Representatives of all 12 clubs have considered the implications of the guidelines for staging behind-closed-doors matches and examined what might be a realistic expectation for when crowds are allowed to return.

Detailed discussions have also taken place regarding a safe and coordinated return to training of players, the majority of whom have been placed on furlough by clubs and are training at home to maintain fitness.

A group of nominated clubs continue to examine a number of scenarios for the resumption of the season, with supporters still very much at the forefront of those discussions.

Those scenarios are likely to see fixtures rearranged to later in the year as part of an extended season.

“The work’s intensified to try and get games up and running," said Wolves chief executive Fitzpatrick.

“Super League have put an announcement out saying that we’re very keen to get the game up and running but we’re very mindful of wanting it to be in front of fans.

“However, we’re not naïve and we think that may take a bit of time. Therefore, we’re looking at different types of fixture modelling which will give us the best opportunity to play games in front of fans.

“The Government is saying playing behind closed doors but the actual logistics, the operations of cost of executing that, it’s not straight forward.

“You also need to take into consideration players coming off furlough, which is a vital source of income for clubs at the moment. So coming off that, getting back to playing, and playing behind closed doors with no matchday revenue means there’s lots of variables that we need to consider before we start playing even behind closed doors.

“That’s why with any fixture format we’re trying to get as many games at the back end of the year as possible to give us a chance to play in front of fans.”

Fitzpatrick reiterated previous messages praising supporters.

“The support so far has been incredible with the loyalty that we’re seeing, and we understand the fans are experiencing difficult times as well," he added.

“Just continue to remain patient. As soon as we know any news in terms of fixtures etc, we’ll announce that.

“As well as the fixtures and scheduling, we’re looking at potentially streaming games.

“Obviously we’d need the green light of our broadcast partners to make that happen, whether that’s in conjunction with Sky or not. I think it’s important we look after our members during this difficult period."

Health of the public remains number one priority throughout the game but Super League executive chairman Robert Elstone said the positive messages from the Government regarding the resumption of sport are welcomed.

He added: "Clearly, this is an important first step in getting us back playing again - but this is also the first step in a complex process that will require more of the game-wide collaboration evident to date, as we look to find solutions, and deal with uncertainties.

"We share with our fans, players, broadcast and commercial partners the desire to get back on the field as soon as possible, in line with Government advice on protecting everyone involved with our sport and the wider community we serve.

"Potential season start dates are all being considered as part of the extensive work going into fixtures scheduling and, while health remains paramount, we are committed to exploring all opportunities to deliver live rugby league in front of crowds."