Ulster Rugby has made its pitch to the Northern Ireland Executive for a phased return to training in the hope that Dan McFarland's squad will be able to train together by the end of June.
The other three provinces have already been given the green light to return to their training bases in Dublin, Cork and Galway by the Irish government although all four professional outfits are currently on an extended summer break for most of the month.
The plan is for the provinces to return to competitive action after the lockdown with a meeting of Leinster and Munster at the Aviva behind closed doors on Saturday, August 22 with Ulster and Connacht due to follow suit at the same venue the following day.
Meanwhile, Ulster have followed the example set by Leinster in opting not to offer season tickets for the 2020/21 campaign as a result of the coronavirus and the expectation that social distancing measures will impact attendances for some time to come.
Leinster made their decision public late last month, deciding instead to launch a membership scheme which would offer those fans who sign up priority status when it comes to accessing tickets for games going forward. Ulster have taken the same path.
The expectation is that the northern province will be in a position to offer season ticket packages again for the 2021/22 campaign but the loss of such a regular and substantial source of income is another major financial blow for the rugby sector on the island as it grapples with the overall economic situation.
Current season ticket holders will also be entitled to claim an account credit of 20% of the value of this season's ticket given any remaining games will be played behind closed doors. Fans who purchased once-off tickets will be able to claim a full refund.
Ulster also have a half-season ticket offering and holders will be entitled to a 50% credit on this. All claims must be made by June 30 after which any outstanding credit and refund amounts “will be gratefully received by Ulster Rugby and will go towards ensuring the club is in as strong a position as possible to return when the time is right”.
Ulster CEO John Petrie will discuss this and other business matters on Thursday when he shares his insights on 'The Challenges of Running a Sporting Business' through the current crisis in a free webinar with Glandore who are facilitators of high-end flexible workplaces and serviced offices.
“In the unprecedented circumstances we all find ourselves in as a result of Coronavirus, it is important that we as a club make decisions which place the long-term interests of our supporters at the forefront,” Petrie said in a club statement on Monday.
We would also like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of our supporters - and in particular our dedicated Season Ticket holders - who have shown great patience and understanding as we continue to work through what is in no doubt the most difficult situation we are likely to face as an organisation. It is heartening to see how they have chosen to stand up and support us at this time.
Munster have long had a membership scheme in operation and the province announced last week that “future ticket purchasing opportunities will be primarily linked to our normal priority channels such as 10-Year, 5-Year, MRSC members and Club ticket holders”.
Supporters who had purchased tickets on a one-off basis for any of their four remaining home games in the 2019/20 season are entitled to full refunds. Some Munster fans have already declared their intention not to seek refunds in a bid to support the province.