IMG last week presented to the RFL Council the recommended grading criteria to define how Super League, RFL Championship and League One clubs will be assessed starting from 2025, as part of the Reimagining Rugby League plans.
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.
In light of this, a club owner who has worked hard to get his side, the Leigh Leopards, to be an impressive proposition to IMG, Derek Beaumont has opened up on IMG and suggested that Barrow Raiders are a better proposition to IMG than Huddersfield Giants.
He said on the Eddie and Stevo podcast:
“I don’t want to pick on any clubs here but if we look at Huddersfield, I love Ken Davy, he’s a legend of a guy who has pumped loads of money, time and effort in.
“But they’ve got a big fancy football stadium, but it doesn’t look great with 3,000 or 4,000 fans in.
“The guy at Barrow would argue his stadium, that’s in need of redeveloping, with a full 5,000 fans in at capacity looks better and is more animated.
“Cumbria needs a team, but there is so much involved in it. Huddersfield fans will slaughter me for saying that but they are not the only ones.”