Leinster CEO warns full houses not likely at the RDS for some time yet

By Brendan O'Brien

Leinster Rugby CEO Mick Dawson has warned that the province still faces a long wait before it can accommodate full houses at the RDS.

The prospect of sport returning has gathered pace in recent weeks with the four provinces, four Airtricity League clubs, and the country's elite athletes across another 19 sports all granted leave to return to their training bases as of today.

There will be no limit on the numbers of spectators when New Zealand's Super Rugby sides compete against each other as of this weekend while the English Premiership is to recommence shortly.

Similar signs are emerging in Ireland. The GAA has announced its own roadmap back while its president John Horan has spoken about the possibility of Croke Park being a quarter or half full under certain conditions.

The four rugby provinces are due to play again on the weekend of August 22nd.

All of this, added to last Friday's decision by the government to speed up the roadmap for re-opening society, shows that sport is edging closer to a return but Dawson knows that the path back to what was normality still has some way to go.

"Last Friday’s announcement by the Government was another hugely positive step in the right direction and hopefully that continues in the coming weeks and months but the reality is that we are still some way short of offering full houses in a safe environment for our supporters and staff.”

This state of affairs was the reason Leinster cancelled their season ticket offering for the 2020-21 campaign late last month and launched instead a membership scheme akin to the one which Munster have had in place for many years.

Ulster today announced plans for the same sort of model but Leinster's offering has now gone public with current season ticket holders getting first dibs on packages costing €120 “with a range of exclusive benefits available to members only”.

Membership will offer priority on any tickets for home games which may be able to cater for fans in the 2020/21 campaign but those season ticket holders that do not want to avail of the offer will still retain their option on a seat for the 2021-21 season.

"Without match day revenue and season ticket sales, the club is taking a significant financial hit so this offering will allow us to offset some of that loss,” Dawson explained.

"This won’t suit all and we are very conscious that some supporters for a variety of reasons may wish to sit this one out, and if that’s the case, we would like to assure them that their seat is secure for another year, that they don’t need to do anything but we look forward to seeing them hopefully back at the RDS Arena for the 2021/22 season."

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