Raiders in midst of Covid outbreak as CEO fears lockdown issues

Raiders forward Rio Grinell-Parke in action

Raiders forward Rio Grinell-Parke in action - Credit: John Scott

Everyone Active Raiders have been forced to cancel the match against Swindon Wildcats at short notice while they weather a Covid outbreak among the squad.

The Romford-based outfit went to Swindon, where they suffered a 6-1 defeat, before the home clash was due to take place the following night. However, the second match has had to be called off after a number of positive cases arose.

Head coach Sean Easton and his side are set to travel away to Bees IHC on Monday, December 27, before then hosting the same opponents the following day (December 28).

Raiders chief executive John Scott said: “We had been advised of a few positive test results during the week, these started with a player's partner and the player assured us he took the appropriate action in re-testing himself regularly.  

“Then Friday came, the first player positive (a different player) followed by another positive Saturday morning before the game to Swindon. 

"The worrying issue is it appeared the results for players were changing in a short spell of time. A player who tested negative early in the morning was re-testing positive later in the day.  

“Most concerning was players testing negative under the lateral flow tests who were then testing positive under the PCR tests.  

Most Read

“On Sunday, another positive test came through and this player had been playing in Swindon and that started a number of phone calls to the EIHA, Swindon and others.  

“It was now a statistical certainty that more would be returned positive and that the lateral flows just were not reliably showing whatever strain we had in the team.  

“The league have rules on the minimum number of players required for a fixture to take place or be cancelled.  

“We already had a number of injuries keeping players off ice and we didn’t need many more Covid cases to take us below that threshold and the rate they were coming in we could easily be below that. 

“The decision basically came down to the health of the team and fans under growing numbers of cases vs the cost to cancel the game at late notice. Eventually it was a pretty simple decision.” 

Raiders forward Jake Sylvester celebrates a goal with his team-mates

Raiders forward Jake Sylvester celebrates a goal with his team-mates - Credit: John Scott

Raiders have begun planning in case tighter restrictions are put in place to deal with the surge of Covid cases across the country. 

“I have already been in touch with the league and Bees to get some forward planning in place should the 'circuit breaker' lockdown comes into play or if Raiders fall below the minimum number of players required.  

“The nature of this season with games virtually every weekend day means that squeezing in replacement dates is very difficult and mid-week games may be the only option if ice-time can be made available.

“In respect of the potential for a mini lockdown, the infection case numbers are rising at an unprecedented rate."

He believes "some sort of restrictions" are likely to be imposed: "We have seen in the past that these things have a habit of being timed to interfere with social and religious gatherings when the most interaction and spreading is likely.  

“That being the case, midnight on Boxing Day seems to be a logical time to bring in restrictions and avoid the normal New Year’s Eve crush at pubs and tourist spots around the country.” 

Even if Raiders can continue to play behind closed doors, a lockdown could affect the club financially. 

“A two-week break would, I am sure, hurt the team quite severely and if it did kick in on the 27th would actually cause Raiders to lose four home games in a row, which would be a massive financial issue. 

“We may be given the option to run as a live streaming event but that would possibly reduce the financial issue by something like 25-30 per cent based on previous live streaming numbers.  

“On the one hand, any action that could slow infection numbers would be great but a two-week total lockdown would create issues of its own.  

“Of course these are exactly the same arguments that all businesses are raising to their MPs in an attempt to avoid another destructive spell for hospitality, pubs and restaurants.”