Championship bosses back IMG’s new rugby league plans

Josh McAllister
Championship Mark Dunning Bradford Bulls Ben Blackmore Dalton Desmond-Walker

Bosses of Championship sides Bradford, Featherstone and York have backed IMG’s proposals for the sport, which were shared on Wednesday morning with clubs.

The global organisation was brought in to assess the sport as part of a 12-year strategic partnership.

IMG shared their proposals on Wednesday morning with clubs before sharing with press in Manchester.

As part of its first reimagining rugby league consultation, IMG suggested a new grading system and scrapping automatic promotion and relegation, amongst other suggestions.

Bradford, Featherstone and York have all since publicly backed the initial proposals, with clubs set to vote later in autumn. 

Read: IMG on relegation, international focus and scrapping Magic Weekend

Championship clubs backing IMG 

“As a club we welcome the findings of the report by IMG,” Featherstone shared from the views of both chairman Mark Campbell and CEO Martin Vickers 

“We believe that the recommendations include sensible and timely initiatives that will strengthen the future of our sport. As a club we believe the work undertaken over the last 10-15 years has stood us in good stead for this revitalisation of the sport. 

“We are a sustainable club that have invested heavily in our facilities and we are confident that any assessment of our on and off field performance will be positive.”

Bradford Bulls chief Jason Hirst commented: “IMG’s proposals are both interesting and much needed if our great sport is to reflect, grow and finally reach its full potential. 

“To do that, it needs be bold, embrace change and attract new spectators and investment. 

“The central recommendation is that if a club is good enough, then there will be room at the elite level of Super League, for it. We have all been put on notice that the opportunity is there for everyone to grasp.”

‘We have to be bold in our approach’

Clint Goodchild, chairman of York City Knights in the Championship, also backed IMG’s proposal and shared his views on the scrapping of promotion and relegation. 

Goodchild said: “I think overall it’s a positive scenario for the game in general.

“I think we have to be bold in our approach. I think it is probably a good middle ground to give clubs the opportunity to meet a minimum standard that should be required by top-tier professional sport.

“The public may be very fond of (promotion and relegation), but the facts say that it doesn’t work. Everyone likes the idea of potentially going up. But I think it’s the hope that kills.

“Clubs are already stretching beyond their means in areas that are unsustainable. They are spending money on players thinking winning on the field will end in profitability and it has crippled the game.”

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