LEIGH Centurions will be given special dispensation to register loan players ahead of Sunday’s Championship Shield Final - in an effort to solve a crisis which has left the club with only nine fit team members.

The Rugby Football League announced tonight it had responded to a request by the finalists – Leigh and Featherstone Rovers – for both clubs to register players on loan.

However, the dispensation will be limited to current Academy players who have not played at first team level.

An RFL statement read: “After taking into account all relevant factors, the Board of the Rugby Football League believes that there are exceptional circumstances that justify this dispensation. 

“This position was unanimously supported by the Championship and League One clubs at a meeting today.”

The club offloaded playing staff earlier in the season to cut costs after the chance of competing for promotion back to Super League was ruled out.

The reduced squad and subsequent injuries meant the club took to the field against Dewsbury on Sunday with 13 players - meaning they had no players on the interchange.

In a statement issued earlier today, the club's board said: "In relation to the Dewsbury Rams fixture (30 September 2018), we can confirm that concerns were raised with the RFL regarding player welfare after the Board were made aware that due to unprecedented injuries, the club would only be able to field 13 players.

"After expressing our serious concerns, the RFL confirmed that the club had to fulfil this fixture as it had sufficient players under Operational Rules."

Setting out its view of the circumstances that has led to the player shortage developing, the board's statement - which was issued several hours before the RFL's statement - added: "Once known the club could not make the play-offs and therefore sustain its contractual liabilities it immediately acted to attempt to ensure the club's short and medium-term future.

"At the same time, it ensured that the coaching team had a squad of 25 players for the remainder of the season by adding three players on loan from Hull KR plus one from Huddersfield Giants along with some trialists ahead of the RFL registration deadline.

"After doing this the coaching staff were confident that the squad was strong enough and deep enough to complete the season and indeed win the Shield that it was left playing for.

"Unfortunately, the club has faced unprecedented injuries and the position has worsened after the Dewsbury fixture.

"At the time of writing the club only has nine players available for selection for the Shield Final against Featherstone Rovers on Sunday 7 October with the possibility for three more to be declared fit after a fitness test on Saturday.

"Unfortunately, injuries are a common part of rugby league and cannot be predicted.

"Indeed, we lost two players during the game against Dewsbury and it is a concern of the club in its duty of care to its players to enter into a professional fixture with nine players, two of whom are amateur players.

"To this end the club has sought clarification from the governing body and has been advised that if it doesn’t fulfil the fixture with its nine available players it will face a misconduct charge. The Club cannot put itself in a position of facing a misconduct charge and the potential of a significant financial penalty so finds itself in between a rock and a hard place.

"The Club Chairman and Owner have both spoken personally with the RFL Chief Executive Ralph Rimmer in a plea to find some common sense as there is a genuine concern for player safety along with the potential for a hostile situation being created should further injuries occur during the game causing it to be abandoned when people will have travelled and paid their hard-earned money to gain entry to the game.

"This is an extremely disappointing position that the Club finds itself in and one that simply cannot be avoided.

"The Club has also offered medical evidence in relation to the injuries. The Club apologises profusely to its fans for the situation it currently finds itself in.

"A further statement will be made the week after next once the playing season has been concluded for all clubs."