Mike Ford explains why Oldham voted for IMG’s plans and the club’s plan to boost grading score

OLDHAM managing director Mike Ford has set out how the ambitious League One club plan to improve their club grading.

They were given 7.39 points out of 20 in the indicative grades released at the end of the 2023 season, the highest-ranked Grade C club but below the threshold of 7.5 for a Grade B.

Despite that lowly position of 25th out of 36 clubs, the Roughyeds were one of the clubs that voted for IMG’s plan to ‘re-imagine’ rugby league, and Ford has explained why.

“We are getting our heads around it. In the future there will be certain pillars where we can make certain inroads,” Ford told TotalRL.

“We voted for it because it was different because whatever has been done before – I wouldn’t say hadn’t worked, but if you look at my time in rugby union in the last 18 months they have lost four clubs and we have lost West Wales Raiders and London Skolars.

“This IMG stuff is a different way to focus on not just the playing side and throwing money at it but laying good foundations at the club whether that’s from a business, facility or fanbase point of view.

“Surely then that is good for rugby league that clubs wouldn’t go bust. I’m sure we will lose a few but I don’t know how it will turn out.

“We honestly don’t know what will happen but we will put our 100 percent behind it and see where Oldham rugby is lacking and doing something about it.”

Ford has explained that the emphasis lies on youth to improve their score.

“The immediate one for me is the pathway and the kids, with that comes parents and then fans,” he said.

“You relate that to going back to the field, let kids in free and they come and buy a scarf, bobble hat etc. It will be connected to the town, kids have got heroes on the field.

“With us potentially thriving with our spectator base, everything follows and then we can look at other things like a new scoreboard to get another 0.25 points.

“We are not getting away from the future and the present. We have got to celebrate the past as well like we have done with our name change (the club’s official title is now Oldham RLFC 1876 Ltd).

“It is a huge task and it won’t happen overnight.”

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