Although it is fair to say that IMG’s plans have been well received by the overwhelming majority of rugby league clubs, one Member of Parliament has labelled them ‘ridiculous’, as some sweeping changes are proposed that would grant the likes of Wigan Warriors and St Helens relegation immunity.
The proposals include:
– A re-positioned calendar which optimises flow, narrative and engagement, incorporating regular ‘peaks’ of interest and a compelling season climax.
– A calendar aligned with the global game to facilitate an international window in October and incorporate a mid-season international.
– Participation in the top tier to be based on a range of on and off field measures, delivered through a club grading system with the aim of supporting financial sustainability and encouraging investment into clubs. ‘Category A’ clubs will be guaranteed participation in the top tier whilst ‘Category B’ clubs will be re-assessed annually with the highest-ranking clubs occupying the remaining slots in the top tier. It is envisaged that grading will take place on an illustrative basis at the end of the 2023 season, with changes to the competition structure delayed until 2025.
– Promotion and relegation will continue on the field of play between the second and third tiers with tier two increasingly filled with strong Category B Clubs.
– An expansion strategy to be developed that targets and supports the growth of the Women’s and Girls’ game, and also growth in new markets.
– Participation of clubs outside of the UK to be capped and with additional standards to support domestic growth.
– Operations to be centralised where this can maximise efficiencies and drive incremental revenue (e.g. ticketing and digital infrastructure).
– A new brand strategy to be introduced and aligned with the above commercial strategy.
Only the Keighley Cougars refused to support IMG’s recommendations, with the club releasing a powerful statement earlier on this evening.
Alongside this statement, MP for Keighley and Ilkley, Robbie Moore, has supported the club in its strong stance.
“I stand unequivocally with the Keighley Cougars position on this issue and I admire the strong stance they have taken today.Especially with being the only club to vote against the IMG’s completely unfair proposals.
“The Rugby Football League and IMG should not be an elitist venture where clubs can pay-in to win, with immunity from relegation.
“It’s not fair, and it’s not sport.
“The only club to vote against IMG’s recommendations revealed as they release strong statement against new vision for Super League.
“I will do all I can in Parliament to support our Keighley Cougars in their efforts to reverse these ridiculous plans.
“In favour of fair values and in the long term interests of a sport we all love.
“By Robbie Moore, MP for Keighley and Ilkley.”