Championship club suggest grading criteria should change after no IMG visit

The preliminary gradings headed up by IMG and the RFL were revealed yesterday with the official grading system set to come into force for the 2025 season.

As such yesterday’s gradings were in a sense a ‘dummy run’ and it’s already been evident as to why it was necessary given that Castleford Tigers have reported that they were incorrectly scored half a point lower than they should have been.

There’s also been a sense of frustration and confusion regarding how the system can work with Super League bound London Broncos almost destined to be relegated at the end of the 2024 season, given they rank 24th in the current gradings.

Many teams have released statements expressing their discontent with Featherstone Rovers going as far to suggest that teams could lie to earn higher scores.

In their statement yesterday, they explained: ” “One troubling aspect of the scoring assessment is how these numbers are actually audited. There are two important issues for us here; We have always asked for independence from the RFL on these matters particularly in the areas of fandom where we have significant concerns about declared attendances in the game, these scores do not appear to match reality of what fans of our game observe on a week-to-week basis and we urgently call for a more independent challenge to this vital issue.

“We strongly believe this should be a separate independent entity charged with the routine auditing of areas such as fandom, stadium facilities and community so that this process is more robust and transparent than is currently the case.”

Fellow Championship side Whitehaven have now released a statement of their own in which they reveal that they haven’t had any visitation from those in charge of grading, leading them to ask how can the club be accurately graded?

Whitehaven took to X to state: “As officially revealed yesterday the club received their IMG Grading which seen the club graded as a C.

“The club were disappointed with some aspects of their grading around the aspects of community work and interest.

“Our community programme involved players in schools, Care homes visiting players from the sixties. We’ve had input on matchdays from all the emergency services including RNLI, blood bikes and St John’s ambulance.

“We have a weekly gentleman’s mental health get together plus a weekly autism charity arts and crafts evening. The club is used regularly for family parties, weddings, funeral teas and christenings along with daytime corporate use. All these events have taken off in the last six months since we started the mini rugby summer camps to involve parents and children.

“We as a club are unsure on how certain areas of the grading can be judged when the club haven’t been visited to gain a perspective on the number of pillars that we offer.

“The club will be moving forward working as hard as we can both on the field in challenging as high up the Championship table in the 2024 season as well as striving to improve behind the scenes to improve our grade ahead of definitive grading over the next 12 months.”

Many of those amazing things that they have done off the field won’t show up in the current grading metrics that include social media reach or the turnover made from a foundation.

Those successes off the field that Whitehaven document are feats of human achievement and highlight a club at the heart of the community, yet the community pillar of IMG simply accounts for population of the area divided by clubs, and financial turnover instead.