Sky Sports pundit Jon Wilkin ‘flabbergasted’ by glaring IMG issue and hits out at ‘surviving’ Super League clubs

SKY SPORTS pundit Jon Wilkin is ‘flabbergasted’ by a glaring issue with IMG’s grading system.

Much has been made of the proposals put forward by the new stakeholders of rugby league, but the proposals were accepted by a majority of the 36 professional clubs.

With five pillars determining if clubs can make it into Super League or not, on-field success is now not a major player in proceedings.

That, of course, has meant that the London Broncos will be relegated from the top flight regardless of their success in 2024.

The Broncos scored just over eight points to sit in 24th in the IMG grading table at the end of last year, and Wilkin believes that such a concept is wrong.

He said: “Melbourne Storm were given time and with the IMG gradings system, which is so new and feels so alien, this was always the elephant in the room, the fact London were coming up and going back down.

“It’s fine when London are losing all their games on the field but if they win a few more games, it’s going to be a very embarrassing situation in the first year of the gradings.

“I support rugby league in London, it’s an incredible asset for us but there’s 11 owners who sit around the table and have a vote. They are very democratic, these clandestine meetings, and these people who decide where the game goes.

“I don’t have any say, the governing body doesn’t have any say in where the game goes, the 12 owners decide what happens.

“They decided to go down a grading route off the back of an IMG recommendation who have basically got a swanky spreadsheet that you put information in that tells you who’s viable and who’s not.

“The lack of clarity on the gradings system flabbergasts me. The lack of flex in the system flabbergasts me.”

Wilkin explained further, claiming that some clubs are just ‘surviving’ instead of thriving.

“The lack of transparency, we’re fumbling into a situation where we have very vocal people like David Hughes (London’s owner) who are alienated by the sport and I refuse to say that that’s a good thing. There are clubs in our league now who are just surviving.

“They’re taking the central deal, they’re getting rid of their players and just surviving because they know they’re going to get in and if that’s right, then the sport is done. It’s finished.

“If we’re going to allow teams to get rid of players, just survive and limp in and we’ve huge investment from other clubs, where’s the fairness?

“We have to be striving to be better and stronger and to get more interest in the game. If we’re not doing that and if we’re just surviving and if you’re not doing that, it’s just a slow death. So let’s have a crack.”

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