Clubs give guarded welcome to IMG’s proposals for future of Rugby League

The reaction of Rugby League clubs in membership of the RFL appears to have been largely positive after they heard the recommendations of IMG for the future of the sport last week.

They have not yet been asked to back IMG’s plans, but will meet again on October 13 to discuss them further.

Some Super League club chiefs have already come out publicly in favour of the proposals, including Eamonn McManus of champions St Helens.

He said: “It is clear that the recommendations aim to improve quality of product, quality of club and also the game’s investment appeal at every level. It should achieve all of those.”

“Exciting and rewarding years lie ahead for the game and for those who are committed to excellence and to improvement.”

Hull KR’s Paul Lakin and Wakefield Trinity’s John Minards have also backed the proposals while Featherstone Rovers, who spent big in pursuit of promotion to the top-flight this season only to miss out, also welcomed the new grading system.

“We are a sustainable club that have invested heavily in our facilities and we are confident that any assessment of our on- and off-field performance will be positive,” they said.

But League One champions Keighley Cougars became the first club to speak out against the proposals, with co-owner Ryan O’Neill saying he had “reservations (IMG) fully understand Rugby League” and accused them of a return to licensing.

He added: “The IMG initial proposals to me seem to just be a continuance of the same mistakes. Preserving the clubs with the bigger names for vanity is not the answer.

“Rugby League, and sport in general, should have a simple premise. You lose, you drop. You win, you rise.”

The above content, along with further analysis and reaction to IMGs proposals, is also available in the regular weekly edition of League Express, on newsstands every Monday in the UK and as a digital download. Click here for more details.