Featherstone Rovers have been deducted two Betfred Championship points and fined £10,000 after being found guilty of breaching the RFL’s Operational Rules.
This is an Agreed Decision between the RFL and the club.
Rovers were found to have held an indoor gathering on Saturday 27 March – a direct breach of the national lockdown restrictions in place at the time – and to have subsequently included in the team for the following Friday’s (2 April) fixture against Batley 12 players who took part in the illegal gathering and who would ordinarily have been forced to stand down under RFL Covid protocols.
The 27 March gathering took place after Featherstone’s Betfred Challenge Cup tie, also against Batley, when the law prohibited people from different households gathering indoors. An RFL investigation began when photographs, which included club chairman Mark Campbell, emerged on social media. The club initially claimed that the only player who was present was the one who could be identified from the photographs – Brett Ferres, who was immediately stood down for 10 days and fined £250 for breaching the RFL’s Covid protocols. CCTV footage of all the attendees was said to be unavailable.
With the club failing to fully cooperate with the early stages of the RFL investigation, Rovers were able to field a virtual full-strength team against Batley the following Friday. But CCTV footage of the illegal 27 March gathering later obtained by the police showed 23 people present, including 12 players who played in the 28-18 defeat of Batley on 2 April. Operational Rules do not allow for the results of completed fixtures to be altered. However, Featherstone have been stripped the equivalent of the two competition points they gained from this victory.
Breach of Covid protocol is (in my opinion) a serious offence, and a mere two points deduction is highly unlikely to affect their position in the table, even though their win percentage has dipped slightly.
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