Fans have been left furious after Salford Red Devils was handed a £15,000 fine with half of it suspended after failing to fulfil a scheduled fixture against Warrington Wolves on Friday 30th of October.
The club claims it was unable to field a team as it had been left with just 13 players available for selection as a result of 'fixture congestion' from the clubs involvement with the Challenge Cup Final.
As a result, Warrington was handed a 24-0 victory and referred to the leagues compliance department for not complying to the leagues covid protocols for withdrawing from such a fixture.
Salford Reds say they made every effort to complete all fixtures and had made additional recruitments to the squad.
A statement from the club reads:
"Super League and the RFL were informed that only 13 players were available for selection in the match, which was set to be the team's third of a congested schedule where they were expected to play four times within the space of 11 days.
"In order to ensure the continuation of the competition, Salford Red Devils had agreed to a concentrated fixture list, which was made more severe by the team's progression to the Coral Challenge Cup Final. The Club made every effort to fulfil all fixtures, with additional recruitment to the squad despite no threat of relegation, and strict adherence to Covid-19 protocols, which prevented rescheduling as a consequence of outbreaks within the Red Devils group.
"Two young players were also promoted from the academy and made their Betfred Super League debuts. The decision was made that it would be a risk to the welfare of these players and those who had recently returned from injury, to expose them to 80 minutes in opposition to senior players that compete at international level, without any possibility of interchanges.
"At a time when other sports have been criticised for their approaches to player welfare, Salford Red Devils are disappointed that the RFL have not supported the stance taken by the Club. This will not alter the Club's priorities and approach going forward."
The RFL responded with a statement of their own:
"Salford did not meet the specific requirements identified under the RFL's Covid protocols for withdrawing from a fixture - a minimum of seven players ruled out as a direct result of Covid-19 (either through a positive test or contact tracing)."
A source at the club has said that they are disappointed with the decision.