IMG chief reveals rugby league clubs’ reaction to proposals and the main ‘challenge’ ahead

IMG introduced their grading proposals for all 36 professional clubs at Huddersfield Giants’ John Smith’s Stadium late in the week.

Five main criteria were proposed: fandom, performance, finances, stadium and catchment.

Those proposals are all well and good, however, but they cannot be implemented without the support from clubs and Vice President of IMG’s Sports Management, Matt Dwyer, outlined the response from those in the meeting.

“What we’ve been asked to do is grow the sport – that’s what they’ve brought us in to do,” Dwyer said live on Sky Sports.

“We’ve brought in a criteria of what the clubs need to do to help grow the sport. The starting point of that is the grading criteria that we showed clubs.

“We’ve done an extensive consultation period, we want to raise the standards of all of our clubs if we want to compete with other sports and entertainment.

“There are plenty of options for fans out there and we want to put our best out there. The criteria will do that.

“We’ve been really happy with the support overall from the clubs and yesterday was not the first time we’ve met with them.

“The support and backing from clubs has been great and ultimately what we went through is five different components for grading.”

Dwyer also emphasised that clubs have to be willing to change to ensure IMG’s proposals help the sport.

“We are helping clubs to grow the sport, we can’t do that ourselves but we need the support of the clubs right the way through the rugby pyramid.

“It’s a role where we can provide recommendations, guidance and support which is what we will be doing through IMG and Endeavour. But we need clubs to invest and reaching those higher levels.

“Ultimately, the challenge is we need the clubs to change how they are operating. We can’t run each individual club there has to be actions taken at club level to get to where we need to be.”

Each club can get a maximum grading of 20 points, with a club that has 15 points or more having a guaranteed position in Super League.

The minimum for Grade B is 7.5 points or more which will mean the club will be eligible to participate in a 12-team Super League when spaces are available.

Grade C is 7 points or below who will participate in the Championship and League One.