IMG today 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 Sky Sports pundit Phil Clarke has said “who can be against” the principles behind the IMG proposals which centre around growing the game.
He said on Sky Sports tonight: “In principle, who can be against growing the game? We all want to do it. We have attempted to do it in a number of different ways in the past and they have all failed.
“I will say this, that seems like a toolkit that I can use to make a stronger club if was a club owner. That has to be viewed. Too many people think there is a magic wand IMG are going to wave and there will be twice as many fans.
“It’s hard work, clubs like Hull KR are doing hard work and doing sensible things to grow a stronger club and increase the fan base and make an enjoyable experience.
“The other thing we have to consider grassroots rugby because this is the lifeblood of the sport and clubs have to be focused on that.
“Clubs need to do their best and follow the lead of a club like Hull KR.”