Breaking down the points available in the five IMG categories and how a Grade A, B or C license can be achieved

IMG revealed their plan to ‘re-imagine’ the sport of rugby league last week in a momentous meeting at the John Smith’s Stadium – the home of Huddersfield Giants.

After setting out the five categories for licensing with fandom (25%), finances (25%), performance (25%), stadium (15%) and catchment (10%), IMG released images and explanations about what each category entails.

There was also clarity about how many points would be awarded under each category with a maximum of 20 across five categories, with further clarification below.

The first category is fandom which IMG categorised as: “encouraging clubs to attract more fans in stadia, both at home and digitally, and improve fan engagement, contributing to both club and central revenues.”

Within this category, there is the potential for five points overall. The biggest contributor to points here is actual attendance which equates to 2.5 points.

1 point is then awarded for viewership. That is how many thousands of people tune in to watch that specific club on Channel 4, Sky Sports or ViaPlay (Championship).

The remaining 1.5 points are split three ways with 0.6 representing total engagements (which includes likes, views, comments and shares), 0.6 for website visits and 0.3 for social following.

Move on to number two in the IMG categories which is performance on the field – basically the whole essence of a sport.

Teams are ranked 1-36 based on where they finish in the leagues and playoffs for the past three seasons with bonus points for winning the league and cup competitions.

Though there are five points available here, unless a Super League side finishes top, wins the Grand Final and triumphs in the Challenge Cup Final, it is highly unlikely that the ceiling will be reached.

With four points given for league performance, 0.75 is given for winning the Grand Final, 0.25 for the Challenge Cup, o.25 for the Championship and then 0.1 for League One and the 1895 Cup.

Number three in the categories is finance, but what does that entail?

Well out of five points, 2.25 of those can be from non-centralised turnover – that is, how much money the club actually makes by itself with another 0.75 points potentially coming from non-centralised turnover as a percentage of total turnover. That criteria is ‘revenue diversification.’

There will be a maximum of 0.5 for adjusted profit, a further 0.5 for balance sheet strength, 0.5 for an increase in owner investment and 0.5 for working capital. The latter three are all part of a drive towards sustainability.

In the licensing of yesteryear, shiny new facilities was often the major focal point of the governing body. Here, under IMG, it is worth 15% of the overall weighting with three points on offer.

There can be a maximum of 1.5 for facilities – so the arena itself – with a further potential point aimed at utilisation. Utilisation, in this context, is how well a club fills its stadium in terms of spectators.

The remaining 0.5 points on offer will come from primacy of tenure – does a club own its stadium? – for 0.25 points as well as 0.125 for LED and 0.125 for a big screen in order to enhance broadcasting and fan experience.

Catchment is the one that potentially has some question marks. This fifth category yields 10% of the weighting with a maximum of two points on offer in a bid to maximise growth in larger markets.

The sum will, simply, be the area population (the population of all cities and towns) divided by the number of clubs in the area. Looking at this, it is obvious that the likes of Castleford Tigers, Wakefield Trinity and Featherstone Rovers will perhaps be adversely affected.