London Broncos have to improve in ‘all categories’ to stand a chance of being a long-term Super League club, IMG have admitted, after the Super League newcomers’ provisional grading sent shockwaves through the sport on Wednesday morning.
Of the 35 professional clubs ranked by IMG – a dry run ahead of the gradings taking full effect at the end of next season – London finished just 24th.
They are closer to the bottom-ranked club, North Wales Crusaders, in terms of both points and ranking than they are to the 12th-placed club, Leigh: the cut-off for Super League in 2025.
It means that in all reality, London’s return to Super League next year is likely to be nothing more than a one-season stint, with them kicked out in all probability when the gradings are used for real at the end of 2024.
IMG’s vice president, Matt Dwyer, stopped short of saying that would definitely be the case but he did concede the club had huge work to do on and off the field to show they can be part of the competition’s long-term future.
London Broncos told to improve ‘in all categories’ by IMG
Asked whether it was impossible for London to survive beyond one season, Dwyer replied: “It’s difficult to answer because it depends on what the other clubs do. We can all see their current grading level is towards the bottom of the piece, so there’s obviously a lot of work to be done there.
“Without going into specifics, it’s pretty broad, so across all categories London need to be improving. There’s plenty of room for them to improve. If London have long-term aspirations to do that, they have to improve across the metrics.
“I would suggest that in 2024 they would be wanting to perform as well as they can to move along that path to being a Category A club and that’s what we’re aiming for. This is not about B6 or B7, it’s about everyone trying to move towards that Category A level.
“When we did our first run-through of this, we thought there’d be four or five A clubs and we’ve ended up with seven. We just need everyone else to come with us.”
Broncos receive supremely low grading as IMG challenge capital outfit to better themselves
The Broncos have yet to comment on their surprise ranking, or what it means for their plans when they return to Super League next season. Love Rugby League has already revealed that Mike Eccles’ squad will feature some part-time players.
Dwyer rejected any suggestion that the Broncos’ ranking means they are now no longer part of IMG’s vision for the sport though, with the global media brand admitting last year the capital was a key area for the growth of rugby league as part of their 12-year strategic partnership.
He said: “The basis for identifying London was a key area for a couple of reasons. One, for its demographic, it’s the largest market we have in the country. But interest and participation is quite high in London, so it still has the base that should make it a core market going forward. Nothing has changed from that perspective.
“All that has been identified is the challenge we have to grow the market based off that score for London. It’s a hard market to crack, something we’ve tried to crack for a long time and it’s really the same as what I said 12 months ago, it has the right ingredients to be a large market for the sport.
But we have to put those ingredients together and bake the cake, for want of a better phrase. I think the answer with London, is the one what we said at the beginning of the process. The objective is to grow the sport, and there’s a lot that needs to be done to grow and have a strong presence in London.
“While I don’t want to predict what the 2025 numbers will look like, what they now have is clear outlines where to improve and where to improve their score. They’ll benefit from a year in Super League where they should be highly motivated to perform the best they can.
“Many of the scores are done over a three-year period and the score they get in 2024 is incredibly important going forward. It reflects the challenge we have in London.”