Leeds Rhinos chief Gary Hetherington gives verdict on IMG proposals

LAST Thursday, the sport of rugby league was given a whole new direction to follow under marketing giants IMG.

All 36 professional clubs met at the home of Huddersfield Giants – the John Smith’s Stadium – with IMG laying bare their proposals to ‘re-imagine’ rugby league.

The five main areas to focus on were outlined as fandom, performance, finance, stadium and catchment area.

And for Leeds Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington, the plans were “very positive” with something needing to change in rugby league.

“The direction of travel is very positive. We, as a game several years ago, realised that we needed change and improvement throughout all aspects of the game to compete at the high echelons of professional sport,” Hetherington told the Box Two podcast.

“An organisation like IMG can provide that element of research and any decision that would be recommended would be well backed up withe evidence and that’s something that the game has never had.”

Hetherington believes the transparency in the plans as well as the ease with which to understand them will help all 36 professional clubs know which areas they need to improve.

“We are all waiting to see what else IMG will recommend as there will be a whole stream of it. But this is an attempt to improve and give an incentive for big clubs to get even bigger and other clubs to become Super League clubs and to understand what is required to become a Super League club.

“It’s a sophisticated piece of research, what elements are required to grow your club. This is a much more involved process than licensing and ultimately it’s transparent, easy to understand and for clubs it’s easy to follow to know where their club fits in the pecking order.”