Sunday, October 17News That Matters

Lions face cash blow with games set to be played without ‘the Sea of Red’ in South Africa

The Lions are braced for a financial hit on their proposed tour of South Africa, with the prospect of behind-closed-doors games bringing ‘minimal’ financial returns.

The touring side decided this week to plump for the original option of travelling to play the Springboks but the trip still could be cancelled entirely if the Covid situation changes.

The Lions, and therefore Home Unions, are not insured that latter scenario and if they do go to South Africa it will be by no means a lucrative tour without large numbers of fans attending.

The British and Irish Lions have decided to tour South Africa later this year

The British and Irish Lions have decided to tour South Africa later this year

The British and Irish Lions have decided to tour South Africa later this year

‘If we’re in a scenario where we’re in South Africa and behind closed doors, I would say it’s more likely than not there will be a very minimal (financial) return to the Lions,’ said Welsh Rugby Union CEO Stephen Phillips, who is on the Lions board.

‘A usual Lions tour has circa 30,000 people going – I can’t see that happening. The idea of a ‘sea of red’ is a little bit optimistic.

‘We remain confident that we’re going, but in these challenging times something could happen in May or June and we’ll have to rethink the whole thing again. We’re at the mercy of the South African government.

Up to 30,000 fans could have made the trip to South Africa for Lions tour this summer

Up to 30,000 fans could have made the trip to South Africa for Lions tour this summer

Up to 30,000 fans could have made the trip to South Africa for Lions tour this summer

‘There is no such thing as Covid-19 insurance. There would be no expectation of us being insured.’

Meanwhile, as Sportsmail revealed earlier this week Danny Cipriani has signed for Bath, joining in May for next season.

His new boss Stuart Hooper said: ‘We believe it’s the right decision to allow us to go on and win trophies.’