Super League clubs face major funding deficit as IMG ready to reveal grades

IMG are expected to reveal their initial grading scores this week for all the clubs in Super League, the Championship and League One.

The initial grading scores will be purely illustrative, however, and will have no bearing on which competitions the clubs will play in next season.

They will, however, give a firm guide to the clubs as to what grade they can expect to be awarded next year and the improvements they need to make if they are to improve their grades.

The grades are based on five criteria – fandom (5 points), performance (5 points), finances (5 points), stadium (3 points) and catchment (2 points).

A maximum of 20 points can be scored, with clubs awarded a grade A if it scores 15 points or more, grade B if it scores 7.5 points or over and grade C if it scores less than 7.5 points. Grade A clubs when assessed in 2024 will be guaranteed a Super League place from 2025.

The figures that are expected to be revealed this week are based on figures over the last three years.

That means, for example, that facilities such as Wakefield Trinity’s new stand, which is almost ready to occupy but which has not yet been used, will not count in this week’s assessment.

Wakefield Chairman John Minards, who is expected to step aside from that role this week when the sale of his club is completed to local businessman Matthew Ellis, is not concerned by that.

“The new stand will be included in our assessment next year, and that is when grading will be important,” Minards told League Express.

Meanwhile the Super League clubs have faced a financial hit of £300,000, both this year and next year, having had to comply with a cash recall for 2023 of £100,000 each by the RFL to sustain its own operations.

The distribution to clubs next year will fall to £1.3 million each from £1.5 million under the current distribution model, reflecting the reduction in broadcasting income from Sky to £21.5 million per annum.