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.
It has been suggested that these criteria favour the big clubs such as Leeds Rhinos.
Now their Chief Executive Gary Hetherington has had his say on how Leeds would score under these criteria.
He said on the Rhinos’ YouTube channel:
“For Leeds as a club I think we should score pretty well on all those sections. There are some missing and some missing elements that are incorporated in the five areas.
“The big one for me is connectivity with the local community, player development, producing the next generation of professional players – not only for our own club but for the game.
“I think that is key area for the game and what clubs should be graded and rewarded on for those clubs that do invest in those areas.
“We aren’t the finished article as yet but I think what we have seen so far has been supported by all and is very comprehensive.”