Rugby league clubs make their decision on IMG's grading recommendations
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The sport’s decision-making body, which comprises representatives from all three professional competitions and the community game, have backed the first recommendation from IMG.
In a Special General Meeting in Huddersfield the majority of clubs provided their support.
In Super League, 10 of the 11 clubs voted in favour, with one abstention (The 12th club, Catalans Dragons, were not entitled to vote).
In the Championship, eight of the 13 clubs voted in favour, with one abstention (The 14thclub, Toulouse Olympique, were not entitled to vote).
Meanwhile, seven of the 11 Betfred League One clubs voted in favour, with one abstention.
The total number of votes in favour was therefore 32, with seven opposed, and three abstention.
Under the weighting system for Council votes which ensures an equal weight for Super League clubs on the one hand, and Championship / League One on the other, there was an 86%-14% result.
Simon Johnson, the Chair of the Rugby Football League and a Board member of Rugby League Commercial, said: “This has been a highly significant day for the sport and I am proud of the vote of the Council today.
“Our clubs were unanimous in supporting the 12-year strategic partnership with IMG when it was proposed in 2022, and have now given strong support for the Club Grading recommendation which is crucial in allowing the sport to grow and fulfil its potential – on the domestic and international stage.
“We thank the team at IMG for the detailed and dedicated work that underpinned this recommendation. Our own teams at the RFL and RL Commercial will continue to work with IMG and other parts of the Endeavor organisation, notably Seven League and 160over90, to advance the other six recommendations included in Reimagining Rugby League.
“In terms of Club Grading, it is important to stress again that there will be no changes to the existing arrangements for promotion and relegation this season.
“In the closing stages of the season this autumn, illustrative gradings for all clubs will be published, providing all with a clear idea of where they stand, with 12 months until the gradings are updated to determine membership of the top tier competition in 2025. We will also continue to work with clubs to develop the Minimum Standards that will sit alongside the Grading Criteria and continue to consult with Council.
“It is also important to reinforce that this outcome, whilst being crucial to the future growth of the sport, is only the first step.
"Work is currently underway to further develop the domestic calendar for 2024, deliver certainty to the international calendar and continue the digital transformation within Rugby League that will continue to lay the foundations for a greater return from the sport’s assets in the future.”
Matt Dwyer, Vice President of Sport Management, IMG Media, said: “We greatly appreciate all the clubs’ input and support during this process. While there is naturally no one set of recommendations that will suit everyone, we strongly believe that club grading, as part of the wider Reimagining Rugby League strategy, is essential to ensure sustainable growth of the game as a whole, and are pleased to see that such a strong majority of clubs agree.
“This is a positive milestone for the future of the sport and we are excited to continue driving progression in other areas over the coming months.”