CONFIRMED dates of returns to match action and training have lifted everyone at Warrington Wolves, but the club’s chiefs have again highlighted the significant financial challenges they are facing too.

The Wire will resume their Super League fixtures behind-closed-doors on Saturday, August 8 against opponents yet to be confirmed, at a venue yet to be announced.

Head coach Steve Price will have his players back together as a group three weeks before, on Monday, July 20, for the first time since mid-March when the UK lockdown and sport suspension was forced by the coronavirus pandemic.

With a confirmed 15 rounds of league matches to come for each team, play-off semi-finals, Grand Final in late November and the continuation of the Challenge Cup, there is some light at the end of the tunnel.

But the current £1.4m shortfall from lost matchday, non-matchday and retail business leaves the club’s bosses envisaging a long and rocky road ahead even after a seven-figure commitment of funding from owner Simon Moran, chairman Stuart Middleton and the board of directors.

Price expects virtually a full-strength squad to be available to him when the match action returns on August 8.

He said: “We can’t wait to get back to work and get among each other, have a bit of banter because we’ve missed that among each other, and getting back to playing rugby and putting smiles on people’s faces.

“The first two weeks of training look like a mini pre-season. It’s important that the guys come back in the best shape they can with the limited resources they have had over this time and then we’ll have a week leading into the first game back.

“The first two weeks will be quite intense. We’ve got to be smart too, we’ve got to be diligent how we train the players. It’s not what you do at the start, it’s what you do at your highest peak around week four and week seven so planning is going to be really critical.”

He is confident Jack Hughes and Matty Ashton will be available for selection the first week back, following the injuries they were sidelined with earlier this year. And Luis Johnson should be ‘there or thereabouts’ too.

Price said: "Jack didn’t play in those first seven games, he had an operation on his groin.

"He’s doing really well and we’re confident when we do resume on August 8 he will come into consideration.

"Matty has recovered really well from his hamstring injury. I’m confident also of Matty being available for the 8th.

“Luis will be there or thereabouts, whether it’s the first or second/third games, but he’s getting close.

"Other than that, I’m confident we’ll have all our men back."

With the fixture schedule, that is yet to be announced, to include a number of midweek games, a healthy squad is going to be vital in any success.

Price said: “The boys are good, they’ve got they’re own programmes and from all the reports they’ve been cracking in and doing the best they can.

“With the amount of games it’s important that you do have a healthy squad because there’s going to be a fair amount of rotation going on as we build into the season.

“There’s going to be some good opportunities for young players to show what they’ve got.”

Chief executive Karl Fitzpatrick outlined the club’s financial position.

“The financial landscape is still looking very challenging, both short, medium and possibly long term,” he said.

“The chairman put out a statement recently about his commitment to the club, from him and Simon Moran and other directors with a seven-figure sum to help ease some of the financial burden.

“As part of that statement, we also asked supporters to consider whether to request a refund or not. If we have a large amount of supporters coming back asking for refunds, it would really make the situation significantly harder to navigate through this.

“The staff and the players accepted a salary reduction and have been outstanding in support of that and willing to take the pain.

“There is a three-month review which we’ve just come to the end of. We’re now going through that process to determine what the salary cuts look like going forward, but it’s quite clear that the current financial situation may actually deteriorate before it gets better.

“And the reason it will probably deteriorate is due to the furlough payment that the majority of the players and staff are currently on. The fact that the playing staff will come off that certainly leaves a hole in our cashflow. I must say it’s been a fantastic initiative from the Government, an absolute lifesaver.

“To give you an insight on the financial challenges that we’re facing, we’ve missed eight home games, a Magic Weekend fixture and a Challenge Cup fixture.

“So to take into consideration the gate revenues, food and beverages, hospitality, advertising, money for being a TV pick, we’re around a £1m shortfall.

“Then we’ve got our non-match day business which is an important area of Warrington Wolves and many sports clubs – for a four-month shutdown we’re looking at circa £150,000 loss.

"And then there’s our retail business, again around the four-month period April to July we’ve probably lost around £250,000.

"So all in all we’re probably looking at a shortfall so far of around £1.4m. That just gives you a bit of an idea on the challenges that we’re currently facing, and that’s only for the recent period.

“In terms of the RFL loan that’s been made available to the clubs, we’re still not sure yet if we’ll be applying for that loan. The repayment terms have not been made available as yet. We’re expecting to get details on that very shortly."