IMG set date for new Super League grading criteria release

James Gordon
Super League balls IMG Rugby Football League

IMG have set a date where they will present to clubs the grading criteria for Super League set to come in to force in 2025.

Their Reimagining of Rugby League project is part of a 12-year agreement with the sport, and last year they revealed a plan to return to a form of licensing in the professional game.

While there has been speculation and some discussions over the nature of the grading, the facts will be revealed to clubs at a special meeting on March 9.

A number of consultation sessions will follow before another meeting and key vote on April 19.

RETURN: IMG recommends return to licensing for Super League

It was previously revealed that licensing would return, with clubs who receive a Category A grade guaranteeing their spot in Super League and effectively being exempt from relegation.

‘Category B’ clubs will be re-assessed annually with the highest-ranking clubs occupying the remaining slots in the top tier.

It is expected that there will only be a handful of Category A graded clubs in the first instance, with the long-term aim for the whole of Super League to be filled with Category A clubs which could then lead to further expansion of the competition.

As well as licensing, IMG’s recommendations also include a re-positioned calendar, an expansion strategy to grow the women’s game and to reach new markets and a cap on clubs outside of the UK.

Some clubs have expressed frustration in recent weeks over the delays in confirming the proposals, initially announced in September.

With the 2023 season due to start this weekend for Championship clubs, they are keen to know what they may or may not need to do in 2024 to put themselves in contention for a Super League spot the year after.

IMG have previously said that they will look to do a trial run of the grading ahead of 2024 as an example, before it comes in to practice for 2025.

Normal promotion and relegation will occur at the end of the 2023 season regardless.

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

Hitting the ground running

Meanwhile, the new RL Commercial Board – formed following the re-alignment of the RFL and Super League – held its first board meeting last month.

Chairman Frank Slevin said: “It was important that we hit the ground running ahead of the February start to the 2023 season, and with memories still fresh of the Rugby League World Cup in the autumn of 2022.

“RL Commercial was born from the realignment of the sport which allows us to build on the successes of the World Cup, where we saw the value of the Men’s, Women’s and Wheelchair competitions running in parallel.

“We are determined to continue that momentum as we look forward to celebrating the inclusivity of our Super League and Challenge Cup competitions – in each case with Men’s, Women’s and Wheelchair competitions, and not forgetting the Physical Disability and Learning Disability Super Leagues.

“That determination will be obvious when the 2023 competitions are formally launched over the coming weeks.”

The RL Commercial board includes IMG representative Ed Mallaburn, RFL chairman Simon Johnson, sports and entertainment partnerships lead at Meta Anna Chanduvi, sports media specialist Peter Hutton and Assura CEO Jonathan Murphy.