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Derek Beaumont on how the Championship will look under IMG system

IMG have 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.

This naturally caused some blow back notably from Keighley Cougars but also there is talk of other Championship clubs, like leaders Featherstone Rovers, unsure of it.

Now Leigh Leopards owner Derek Beaumont has backed the IMG changes but has admitted that he understands why Championship clubs would be against it but he has spoken about how the Championship could look under IMG.

He said on the Eddie and Stevo podcast: “I think we’re travelling in the right direction on first view. I can understand why Championship clubs are not happy with it and would see it as an impossible task to ever get to a Grade A.

“My advice there would be that the Championship can be a standalone competition. That can have its own sponsorship, its own right and be something significant to win and have a significant cash value to winning that.

“Then when you win it, you win a substantial amount of money where you can then put LED boards in your ground or invest in different aspects to then look at, in three to five years of winning that competition, becoming a good Grade B.

“There can then be an argument to say they are better than some of the other Grade B’s and try get to a Grade A, because you can’t really get a Grade A outside of Super League, I think that’s the issue.”

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