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Ex Sky Sports Commentator compares IMG to VAR labelling it a ‘farce’

Yesterday saw the preliminary gradings handed out by the RFL for all teams in Super League, Championship and League One, with those grades in 2024 set to determine the league composition going forward.

Grading was a concept introduced by IMG, the sports marketing company that have signed a 12-year deal with the RFL to improve the ‘commercial viability’ of rugby league, yet it’s still a highly controversial concept and one with many critics.

During the process of clubs approving and voting for or against grading being the method going forward, Keighley Cougars were one of the most outspoken clubs as they labelled it ‘spreadsheet rugby league’, whilst plenty of others feared it would curb on field ambition.

Upon the release of yesterday’s gradings it sprung some surprises, most notably that recently promoted London Broncos were ranked 24th of 35 teams, despite having secured themselves a spot in Super League within the last fortnight.

It leaves the Broncos in a huge predicament whereby they will almost certainly be removed from Super League after the 2024 season, even if they don’t finish 12th.

The idea of removing ‘traditional promotion and relegation’ was among the biggest criticisms of this new IMG era and former Sky Sports commentator Rod Studd has taken to X, formerly Twitter, to react to the initial gradings – something he’s dubbed as a ‘farce’.

Upon the release of the grades, which saw Leeds Rhinos lead the way as one of seven Grade A clubs, Studd asked the question: “Any IMGball cultists left?”

He was even more scathing of the London situation, suggesting they shouldn’t bother to try.

“Why would London bother to try. Sorbs zero on players. Get tonked every week.who cares about playing results? This is Imgball manifest.”

Studd then highlighted one of sport’s other great controversies, VAR usage in football, comparing and contrasting it to IMG.

“The fact is we warned you about IMGball. Like we did with VAR. Both have degenerated into farce. Yet in a classic case of Concorde fallacy some insist both could still work,” Studd posted.

He continued: “Remember when THEY said there were teething troubles with VAR and it would work with a few tweeks. IMGball are saying something similar about London being relegated before playing a match.”

Whilst grading is certainly a different way of running rugby league it has to be stated that it’s a system with long term goals to provide and create sustainability.

The focus on a number of categories outside of on-field performance means clubs are forced to spend within their means, contribute to their community and grow organically in this new digital world.

Despite that, Studd simply asked: “How did we go from “ every minute matters” to “ not a single minute matters”?”

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