Relegation to be scrapped for top Super League clubs as IMG’s sweeping changes revealed

At a meeting of the Rugby League Council arranged for further discussions of the Reimagining Rugby League recommendations presented to the sport by IMG last month, the RFL members today gave strong support to the principles and direction of the recommendations.

The sport’s executive will now work with IMG to scope out the details of the recommendations. This will involve appropriate consultation with clubs and other stakeholders.

This work will sit alongside other workstreams to maximise the commercial potential of the sport and build deeper relationships with fans and new audiences.

Members were assured that they will have further opportunity to register their views as the process continues.

In summary the recommendations are:

– 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.