Five clubs who could benefit from IMG’s grading criteria

IMG last week 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.

But which clubs could benefit the most from this criteria?

London Broncos
It has long been rumoured that London is an area of great importance to IMG in rugby league and the potential it has was demonstrated by the attendance at the Emirates during the Rugby League World. The catchment criteria certainly could benefit them above other clubs.

Midlands Hurricanes
Likewise with the Midlands Hurricanes. They have also shown forward thinking by taking rugby league to the  brilliant Alexander Stadium in a terrific move. They have potential as a club and this criteria will give them the platform to achieve it.

Cornwall RLFC
Once again a club who will benefit from the catchment section of this criteria and will help grow the game down South. They gave been pushing hard in their first two seasons and now given their location and this criteria benefactors are more likely to invest in them than other lower league clubs.

Newcastle Thunder
Like London, the World Cup shone a light on the audience for rugby league in Newcastle with a big attendances at St James’Park for the opener backed up when Scotland played Italy. A club with decent finances and a strong catchment, they could soon be in Super League.

Likewise with York. They have great facilities and a strong catchment area and a decent squad already as well as an exciting coach in Andrew Henderson. They could now be in pole position to be a future Super League club.

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