With IMG taking over the sport of rugby league and having a significant impact on Super league in particular there has been a heavy focus on how they will affect promotion and relegation.
The end of traditional promotion and relegation is upon us with other elements besides performance such as fandom and facilities.
In fact, below you can see the entire IMG grading system below with performance only making up one quarter of the criteria:
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.
This means more than one club could be relegated in 2024 as well and based on the 2023 indicative gradings that will happen with Toulouse Olympique and Wakefield Trinity inside the top 12.
If Toulouse won the Championship and Wakefield won the 1895 Cup they would both stand a strong chance of making the top 12.
London Broncos are almost consigned to relegation with a 24th ranking. But who could join them? Castleford Tigers and Leigh Leopards finished 12th and 13th in the 2023 rankings. However, both are confident that they will dramatically increase their grades in 2024 with Derek Beaumont believing the Leopards will be a Grade A club.
The other club who could get dragged into all of this is Salford Red Devils. They are expected to struggle in 2024 and that could see them dragged into the discussion over relegation under IMG. Their uncertain stadium situation isn’t a help either.
New look Super League backed by RL Chair
Simon Johnson, the Chair of the Rugby Football League and a Board member of Rugby League Commercial, said of the grading criteria:
“This has been a highly significant day for the sport and I am proud of the vote of the Council today.
“Our clubs were unanimous in supporting the 12-year strategic partnership with IMG when it was proposed in 2022, and have now given strong support for the Club Grading recommendation which is crucial in allowing the sport to grow and fulfil its potential – on the domestic and international stage.
“We thank the team at IMG for the detailed and dedicated work that underpinned this recommendation. Our own teams at the RFL and RL Commercial will continue to work with IMG and other parts of the Endeavor organisation, notably Seven League and 160over90, to advance the other six recommendations included in Reimagining Rugby League.
“In terms of Club Grading, it is important to stress again that there will be no changes to the existing arrangements for promotion and relegation this season.
“In the closing stages of the season this autumn, illustrative gradings for all clubs will be published, providing all with a clear idea of where they stand, with 12 months until the gradings are updated to determine membership of the top tier competition in 2025. We will also continue to work with clubs to develop the Minimum Standards that will sit alongside the Grading Criteria and continue to consult with Council.
“It is also important to reinforce that this outcome, whilst being crucial to the future growth of the sport, is only the first step. Work is currently underway to further develop the domestic calendar for 2024, deliver certainty to the international calendar and continue the digital transformation within Rugby League that will continue to lay the foundations for a greater return from the sport’s assets in the future.”
Matt Dwyer, Vice President of Sport Management, IMG Media, said:
“We greatly appreciate all the clubs’ input and support during this process. While there is naturally no one set of recommendations that will suit everyone, we strongly believe that club grading, as part of the wider Reimagining Rugby League strategy, is essential to ensure sustainable growth of the game as a whole, and are pleased to see that such a strong majority of clubs agree.
“This is a positive milestone for the future of the sport and we are excited to continue driving progression in other areas over the coming months, including through our work with Seven League on digital transformation and 160over90 on branding.”
During Round One of the Betfred Super League, a shocking incident occurred at the...
During Round One of the Betfred Super League, Castleford Tigers‘ player Liam Watts was...
Leeds Rhinos‘ new signing Paul Momirovski and opponent Ryan Brierley were both sent to...