Stevo says Championship side will be in Super League ‘very very soon’

As the IMG era approaches in 2025, the likes of Leeds Rhinos, Wigan Warriors, St Helens and Warrington Wolves can probably breathe easy knowing their place in Super League is secure in two years’ time, but outside of that the reminder of the clubs in Super League are now having to work hard at off-field matters.

The IMG criteria that was passed which will determine who makes up the 12 places in Super League focuses on many key areas, including stadia and fandom, something that some Championship clubs have to their advantage as they look to displace some of the teams in Super League.

One of those clubs is the Bradford Bulls, a team steeped in history with a huge fanbase, with the club still recovering from their fall from grace that saw them win the World Club Challenge in 2006, before financial troubles led to their relegation just eight years later in 2014.

Having fallen to League One at one stage, the Bulls have now been in the Championship in 2018 but have failed to mount a serious assault on a return to Super League until this season – with the club sitting fifth currently.

Despite their improvements this season, Bradford are still outsiders for promotion with leaders Featherstone the big favourites followed by Toulouse Olympique, who were recently in Super League and unlucky to be relegated.

So it’s likely that the Bulls best route back into the top flight in the near future will come through meeting the IMG criteria, and former Sky Sports commentator and Great Britain legend Mike Stephenson certainly thinks that is the case.

Speaking on the Eddie and Stevo podcast, he said: “I think they will be back in the Super League very very soon, especially the way that IMG are creating the future of our game because it’s not about the results on the park there’s more importance off the field of play.

“What you’ve just mentioned indicates to me that why on earth would you stop Bradford Bulls going back to the top league? They need them.

“There was a few thousand go up to Whitehaven. They’ve got great support and IMG have made it quite clear it’s all about off the field, the preparation, the backing, the junior development and they’re doing it right.

“I would love to see the Bulls back in Super League. Sooner the better. They have great support. They’ve got great belief. A lot of other clubs have just gone to the wall because of the fact that they’re not in the top echelon.”