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Everything you need to know about the IMG vote today

In March, IMG 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.

These have been slightly amended to put a focus on community and less focus on finance whilst minimum standards have also been added.

If voted through, illustrative grades for the 2024 season will be released at the end of the 2023 season and clubs will be provided with a dashboard outlining the areas they need to improve to attain a higher grade. Grading will then come into full effect from 2025, with the top tier league comprising of 12 clubs including all ‘Category A’ clubs and the highest-ranking ‘Category B’ clubs. All gradings will be re-assessed annually, meaning it is envisaged that promotion and relegation between the tiers would continue, but no longer wholly determined by on-field performance.

The vote takes place today at a council meeting today between 11:00 and 14:00.

IMG just need a majority to see the proposals introduced.

Clubs like Leeds Rhinos have said they will vote in favour of the changes whilst the likes of Keighley Cougars stand against.

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