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Exclusive: London Broncos head coach speaks out on IMG grading

London Broncos Head Coach Mike Eccles has highlighted his belief that his side’s IMG grade is an opportunity for growth and that the club will not be ‘kicking and screaming’ about their grade. 

Yesterday, the London Broncos were placed 24th in IMG’s rankings, with the Londoners receiving a B grade and an overall score of 8.07. Furthermore, they placed below Newcastle Thunder, who have pulled out of the 2024 season.

Speaking exclusively to Serious About Rugby League, the Broncos boss explained that the club will use it as a positive opportunity to improve, rather than taking a negative view.

“We’d already put in plans to improve certain areas of the club anyway,” Eccles said.

“But now we know exactly as a matter of fact what we need to do. There’ll be absolutely no kicking daisies internally, I know there’s been a big uproar externally, but there will no complaining here. We’ve got a lot of work to do and we knew that anyway.”

He added: “It’s been clarified by IMG, we’ll be pulling together really strongly as a club. Not as an off-field operation or a non-field operation but collaboratively to get the highest points possible before the final gradings come in this time next year.”

During the interview, Eccles also explained that the club are keen to work with IMG to grow both the London Broncos brand, but also Rugby League as a sport.

“From our side, we want to work with IMG for the good of our brand and for the good of the game.” he told SARL. “Because something’s got to change and this is it, so we’re on board. We’re disappointed, naturally, to be that low down; but we will not be kicking and screaming, we’re just going to get to work.”

Eccles also added that the club are already starting the process of improving, saying: “We’ve already sat down and had a few meetings on it, and I’ve got a big meeting with the owner and Jason, our CEO, on Monday, Tuesday, next week. We’ll be going for it.”

The Broncos secured their place in Super League next season with a fantastic win over Toulouse in the Championship Grand Final, and Eccles highlighted that this spell in Super League in 2024 will help boost their score next year.

“In terms of IMG and what they’re after in terms of the business model, we’ve got to up our game. We knew that anyway. We’ve got to get bums on seats. We’ve got to increase and better our revenue streams, but naturally that will happen because we’re in Super League.”

Another big reason Eccles believes his side’s score will improve next year is the exposure on TV. Last month, Sky Sports agreed to expand their coverage, which will see all Super League games-including Eccles’ Broncos side- aired on various Sky Sports channels.

Speaking on the increased TV coverage and what it means for the club’s IMG score, Eccles said: “Last year, when the gradings were done, we were on TV once. The run for the playoffs didn’t get taken into consideration at this point; so by the end of the season we’ve been on TV four times in total. Next year we’re going to be on TV 26 times; this will massively benefit us, our off-field operators will massively benefit off our on-field success this year.”

He added: “Fandom will obviously go up, revenue streams will obviously increase, and our aggregate position will obviously increase over three years because we’re in Super League; so naturally, without doing a single thing, things will rapidly improve at the club, but that’s not enough.”

“That will happen organically because we’re at the top table and if we can put a strategic plan together on top of that, then we feel like we can gather points fairly quickly, is the plan, and hopefully get into, and hopefully retain our status in Super League.”

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