Why Wakefield could be set for Grade A licence under IMG

This season has been disastrous year for Wakefield Trinity; however from the ashes rises a new club, and with it comes restored hope. 

Today, the club confirmed Matt Ellis’ takeover of the West Yorkshire outfit was finally confirmed following months of speculation.

Speaking to the clubs website about the takeover, Ellis said: “I’m absolutely delighted to get the deal over the line. I. can’t wait to now get started with the task in hand of getting the club back into Super league and at the top end of the table challenging for trophies. It’s a real honour to be part of such a historic club and fulfils a personal ambition to be owner of the club I support.

He added: “With 150 years of proud history with huge successes behind us, my promise to the supporters is that I will give 100% to restore the club to its glory days. I want next season to be successful on and off the field and have already got to work setting plans in motion to ensure a successful 2024 for the club.”

Ellis has already brought about big change at Belle Vue. He has appointed former Castleford Tigers and Warrington Wolves Head Coach Daryl Powell to steer the ship, and made several backroom changes.

Daryl Powell’s appointment is clearly an attempt to guide Wakefield back to the top flight. Powell’s experience coaching at the highest level is something that Mark Applegarth didn’t have last year in his baptism of fire into the world of a Head Coach, and it could bring about a period of success at Belle Vue. Furthermore, Powell will be at the helm for four years, which highlights how his appointment is for the longer term future of Wakefield, with an eye to establish themselves back in Super League if they return.

In addition to Powell, Ellis has cited his desire to invest heavily into the playing squad. In his statement, he confirmed the club would be announcing key additions to the squad, as well as retaining some players from the 2023 squad. These new additions should help bring about a new lease of life into the playing group at Wakefield, but it will also give them a good chance of improving their IMG grade.

The aim for Wakefield next season should be promotion as well as winning the League Leaders Shield. If they do this, they will earn 2.6667 points for their IMG grade (top of the Championship is equal to 13th in the overall Rugby League table). Investing in the playing squad, on top of the players they already have at their disposal, will be a massive boost for their chances at securing these valuable points which will help gain a higher IMG grade.

As part of the statement released on the takeover, Matt Ellis highlighted the desire for Wakefield to achieve the highest IMG grade possible. He told the website: “I believe that with the additional investments made in the club, coupled with the skills I’ve learnt from running my online business for 20 years, I am best positioned to secure the highest possible IMG score for the club.”

He added: “A high score will enhance the club’s reputation, potentially attracting higher-calibre players, sponsorships, and partnerships.”

This intention to get Wakefield the best IMG score possible shows that the investments that will be made by Ellis aren’t just to get them back into Super League at the first attempt, but it will help the club grow over time.

The major announcement that will certainly boost their IMG grade is the season ticket prices. The club announced they would be dramatically reducing their season ticket prices for the 2024 season in an attempt to draw as many fans as possible to Belle Vue. Bringing in as many fans as possible into the ground will have a big effect on their IMG grade, as a maximum of five points is given for a clubs fan base, and half of those five points are given for average attendance.

Reducing ticket prices will allow more fans to come to watch Wakefield, and with that it could really boost their  IMG grade for fandom.

The final pieces of the IMG puzzle are club finances and stadium. Wakefield have already grown their stadium with the new stand; however Ellis’ takeover has resulted in some big strides in the finances department.

Not only will Ellis’s financial investments in the club help with the score, but he has also appointed Steve Mills as Recruitment and Salary Cap manager. This appointment will give the club a huge boost in their financial aspect of the IMG grade, as it will help keep their spending at a sustainable level.

In the statement, Ellis explains how Steve Mills will help the club finances.

“Steve will be fully involved with all player contracts and agent negotiations for the club,” he said. “With Steve in this position I feel he will give the club an edge as he will be looking not just at the 2024 season, but also at building a squad capable of achieving successes into the 2025 season and beyond.”

The focus on growing the squad for 2025 and beyond shows that their is some thought into the future, and that the spending needs to be at a sustainable level in order to ensure the club can succeed long into the future.

IMG points are crucial next season, and the plans laid out by Matt Ellis show that Wakefield are looking to take maximum points in all areas. They have a clear focus, both on short term goals as well as creating a sustainable and successful future, but will we see the Trin given that all important A grade in the future?