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IMG have saved Hull FC, says Jon Wilkin

Jon Wilkin Richie Myler Hull FC Badge

The 2025 season will see the composition of Super League dictated by a team’s IMG Grading score and pundit Jon Wilkin has claimed that Hull FC will be “thankful” of that, with the Black and Whites otherwise facing a potential embarrassing relegation.

IMG have partnered with the RFL in a long-term deal with the core aim being to make Rugby League more marketable and the marketing agency’s major policy targets that by ensuring stability.

Sadly, far too many teams have gone bust by going for broke and trying to buy promotion, whilst others have gone bust simply due to a lack of facilities. IMG’s introduction of a grading system intends to raise all standards so it’s avoidable.

To force clubs into the concept of investing off-field rather than on it, performance-based promotion and relegation have been removed with grades determining league composition, and for Jon Wilkin that has saved Hull FC this year. Those thoughts have become louder following the Black and Whites’ embarrassing 34-18 loss to London Broncos in which even interim coach Simon Grix questioned the desire of some players.

Hull FC relegation blushes spared by IMG

Hull FC

Credit: Imago Images

Part of IMG’s plan is to create a competition full of Grade A teams (15 or more points out of 20), thereby raising the standard of all, and as such Grade A teams are guaranteed a spot in Super League.

Under the preliminary gradings released back in October, Hull FC were the seventh and final Grade A team with the Black and Whites sneaking in with a score of 15.05.

Those gradings could change over the course of this campaign but it seems likely that Hull FC will be safe in Super League, despite the fact that the club would ordinarily be in a relegation scrap having lost their ‘relegation four-pointer’ against London Broncos.

Hull FC have caught flack from Leigh owner Derek Beaumont over their current situation, Beaumont taking to social media after FC’s loss to London arguing: “Let’s relegate a team that’s trying their heart out and has just beat a team that’s got rid of their players thinking they are safe as a grade A Club.

“A great example of why IMG scoring doesn’t work in this format! Let’s stand up for the game and insist on relegating the bottom team whoever that is!”

Sky Sports pundit Jon Wilkin has now followed suit when appearing on the broadcaster’s Rugby League Verdict, the ex-Saints captain picking out Hull FC as ‘the bad’ from his ‘Good, Bad and Ugly’ segment.

Jon Wilkin said: “When we take a look at that league table and how it’s shaping up. At the top, it’s all very interesting but look at Hull FC now down in eleventh, only on two points and toppled by the Broncos.

“They’ll be thankful for the IMG grading system that looks like it could save them from a real embarrassment this year.”

Is Jon Wilkin right though?

Has IMG saved Hull FC?

Hull FC

Credit: Imago Images

There might yet not be a definitive answer and there probably never will be because as Beaumont referenced, ‘Would Hull FC be acting as they are if they didn’t know that they were safe?’.

One thing that’s for certain is that they are in a genuine scrap to avoid the wooden spoon and currently it seems that London Broncos have far more pride in playing to avoid that position than Hull FC do.

Of course, Hull FC have some outstanding players and plenty whose efforts cannot be questioned with the club’s young starlets such as Jack Charles, Logan Moy and Lewis Martin all pouring blood, sweat and tears into remedying the club that they love.

If not for those three young men, and a handful of others, Hull FC would be in a genuinely hopeless position it could be argued. Simon Grix will have plenty to sort out following that defeat with the loss marking five steps backwards after the single steps forwards in recent weeks with performances against Leeds Rhinos and Warrington Wolves.

As Super League continues to unfold it will become more evident if IMG have genuinely saved Hull FC but for now, all eyes are on the rubber match between Hull FC and London Broncos at Magic Weekend. Or at least, all eyes should be on that. Super League and the broadcasters should be able to bill that as a relegation decider, yet under IMG it seems that the decision has already been made.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. John

    May 16, 2024 at 9:24 am

    Two points on this.
    Firstly IMG was accepted by a large majority of the clubs. Now the reality is there, a lot of people are beginning to realise it means exactly the scenario we have now can happen, potentially, every season, with a club safe from non-existent relegation propping up the table and performing poorly. But that isn’t what IMG are about. However bad Hull FC are, they still have the potential in almost all aspects apart from their current performances on the field to compete at the top level. Don’t forget the knock-on impacts of relegation. What would happen to SL attendances if FC were relegated. Regardless of the results on the itch, they have one of the most loyal fan bases in Rugby League and in addition to home attendances, are among the best away supported teams. IMG is about making sure teams do not spend money they haven’t got on “buying” promotion and find themselves struggling and ultimately being relegated back to the Championship in a much worse state then when they were promoted. It’s also about making sure those teams who have been in the top flight for some time put a structure in place off the field to help them maintain that standard on the field. It’s a long term project and until more teams strive to put that off-field structure in place, we will see some, what appear to be, unfair scenarios in the league table. Remember when Bradford Bulls used to be one of “the” teams?
    Secondly, I can see why Derek Beaumont is trying to shift people’s focus to relegating the “bottom” team.
    In the provisional IMG scores, Leigh were in 12th place. Now, assuming Toulouse maintain their score and Wakefield appear to have done enough off the field to substantially increase their score, it only requires Castleford to add a few tenths for them to have better score than Leigh, particularly as Leigh will definitely lose the points they gained from last season for winning the Challenge Cup and look unlikely to finish as high in the Super League. So, potentially, Leigh may also not be in the Super League next season, hence Mr. Beaumont’s push for relegating the bottom team.
    By the way, if anyone thinks I’m biased towards FC, I’m actually a Rovers supporter.

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