Jon Wilkin hits out at ‘lack of clarity’ in IMG system and clubs who are ‘just surviving’

Jon Wilkin Sky Sports Alamy

Sky Sports pundit Jon Wilkin - Alamy

Sky Sports pundit Jon Wilkin has hit out at both the ‘lack of clarity’ in the IMG system – as well as clubs he insists are ‘just surviving’ because they know they are guaranteed a place in Super League in 2025.

Wilkin was speaking on Sky Sports’ The Verdict on Wednesday afternoon, after London coach Mike Eccles insisted he hoped there would be a change to the criteria that would leave the door ajar for the Broncos to fight to keep their place among the elite next year.

And Wilkin insisted that he was ‘flabbergasted’ by the lack of clarity in the system, warning that the game faces an embarrassing situation if London, who were ranked 24th out of 36 last year, avoid finishing bottom of Super League and are then asked to leave.

He said: “Melbourne Storm were given time (in the NRL) 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, it’s very democratic.. these clandestine meetings, 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 gradings 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.

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

Wilkin didn’t stop there. He then took a swipe at clubs he insisted are cutting costs and merely aiming to ‘just survive’ because they are already assured of a place at the top table under the gradings system.

He said: “The lack of transparency.. we’re fumbling into a situation where we have very vocal people like David Hughes who are alienated by the sport and I refuse to say that’s a good thing. There’s 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 got huge investment from other club owners, where’s the fairness? We have to be striving to be better and stronger, to get more interest in the game. If we’re not doing that, 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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