IMG recently 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.
Now the RFL’s new CEO Tony Sutton has explained “the beauty” of this system.
“There’s been a lot of discussion in terms of us holding consultations to make sure that people know what the background is,” Sutton said on BBC Radio Manchester.
“What this does is creating a road map for clubs, which at the moment is all done on field with performance.
“The beauty of the grading criteria system is that it maybe gives a club that wants to change it’s position and be progressive a different way to stick a plan on the wall and say ‘we can get some points here, or target there and that’s how we can progress should I be able to or should I choose to’.”