The future of clubs like Leeds Rhinos, Wigan Warriors, Warrington Wolves, St Helens and the rest of the big boys, all the way down to League One is in the hands of IMG and their ideas for the sport.
There is something of a problem though regarding the structuring of the league pyramid with only nine teams remaining in League One after the decision of London Skolars to withdraw from the league.
Thus, there have been talks of a merger with the Championship moving forward which has also led to reports of a 14 team Super League on its way.
However, Serious About Rugby League can confirm this isn’t on the table.
This is because it would see TV money shared between even more teams and it would go against IMG’s recommendation for fewer games.
IMG’s recommendations include a grading system which moving forward will determine who is in Super League.
Based on a combination of on and off-field variables, the proposed grading criteria are designed to collectively increase clubs’ fanbases, diversify revenues, drive investment into clubs and the sport in a sustainable manner, run clubs in a best-in-class way and ensure strong governance is in place.
The recommended grading criteria cover five areas, with each element contributing to a percentage of the overall weighting, including:
Fandom (25%): encouraging clubs to attract more fans in stadia, at home and digitally, and to improve fan engagement, contributing to both club and central revenues.
Performance (25%): incentivising clubs to perform on the field and drive fan awareness and engagement. Teams will be ranked between 1 and 36 based on where they finish in the leagues for the previous three seasons. Bonus points will be awarded to teams who win league and cup competitions in the previous season.
Finances (25%): reflecting the success of fan engagement and business performance and rewarding sustainable investment, as well as diversified revenue streams and sound financial management.
Stadium (15%): based on a number of factors, including facilities and utilisation, which add value to the fan and broadcast or digital viewer experience, and match or exceed competition from other sports and events.
Catchment (10%): based on area population and the number of clubs in the area, with a view to maximising growth of the sport in the largest markets to generate new fan bases and incentivise investment.