RUGBY League World Cup bosses admit their scheduling may be thrown into chaos by a delay to the football season.
Matches for the 2021 tournament are scheduled to be held at 12 venues which also host the round ball game.
These include the opening game between hosts England and Samoa at Newcastle’s St James’ Park on October 23, a semi-final at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium and the men’s and women’s finals at Old Trafford on November 27.
Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane, Leeds United’s Elland Road and Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium are also booked to host matches, as well as Anfield, Bolton, Hull, Huddersfield, Doncaster and York.
But with the seasons currently on shutdown because of the coronavirus outbreak and likely to be delayed, with the potential knock-on into next term, RLWC chiefs are on red alert.
Tournament chief executive Jon Dutton said: “If there’s any disruption or disturbance, it may have an effect.
“We’ve also got to consider UEFA, with the Champions League and Europa League – they’re in that mix.
“If the Premier League, Championship, Super League and the NRL are all played to a conclusion this year, that would benefit us.
“But at the moment, we’re at the back of the queue, we’ve tome on our side and we’ll continue to do our contingency planning.”
Dutton also revealed the outbreak and shutdowns have forced the delay of the release of the exact schedule of the World Cup, which will now be done in July.
He added: “We were ready to go. We’d been talking to the broadcasters about kick-off times and matching games to venues.”
Dutton also insisted there would be no change in prize money for either the men’s, women’s or wheelchair tournaments and is confident they can still hit their cash and ticket targets.
He also believes there is no chance of England stepping in to hold the 2025 tournament after it was put back out to tender after being initially awarded to North American sports promoter Jason Moore.
He said: “Do I see England hosting it? Definitely not.”