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Rugby league told to take IMG’s grading criteria as a ‘kick up the backside’

RUGBY league has been given the ‘kick up the backside’ it needed after clubs learned what will decide their crucial grading.

But while a Grade A score guarantees a Super League place, clubs below the top flight face uncertainty on how the make up of those competitions will be decided.


Clubs like Wakefield are took action ahead of IMG laying out criteria by renovating their groundCredit: SWPIX.COM

Strategic partner IMG revealed its five ‘pillars’ that will make up a score of 20 to all sides on Thursday – fandom, performance, finances, stadium and catchment.

While there are the more usual parts like ranking all 36 on how well they have done well in the league over three seasons and the better the ground, the better the score, there are some less likely ones.

Having a big screen and electronic advertising carries a quarter of one point between them. Theoretically, that could prove the difference between one club and another.

Social media – how many followers, website visits and engagements – also count for one-and-a-half.

However, Andy Mazey – chairman of League One side Rochdale Hornets – believes the criteria, with clubs scoring 15 or more Grade A and seven-and-a-half or more Grade B, are what the sport needs.

He will, though, press IMG on their plans for the Championship and League One.


Mazey told SunSport: “It’s the kick up the backside we needed as a sport collectively.

“It gives everyone an opportunity. I said to IMG at a consultation session, ‘Don’t cut anyone adrift, don’t dismiss anyone. It’s important everyone gets a framework to develop a club.’

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“That’s what it does, it gives everyone that opportunity. Those who have rested on their laurels or put other things in front of others have got to grow and develop a club pretty quickly now.

“I’ve two hats on – one as a supporter and my Rochdale one – and I’m not negative on them. It gives a clear, defined set of criteria and it sets a standard it’s trying to bring everyone to.

“But what happens to the Championship wasn’t clearly defined and I’ll be asking. I think there’s a chance our club could score higher than existing Championship ones on the criteria basis.

Andy Mazey believes IMG's criteria are a 'kick up the backside' for rugby league2

Andy Mazey believes IMG’s criteria are a ‘kick up the backside’ for rugby league

“It’s something I’m keen to understand, it’s a crucial point I’ll be raising.”

Rochdale will score well on the catchment criteria being the only club in a borough of 230,000 people whereas Wigan and Leigh are in the same council area, as are Wakefield, Castleford and Featherstone.

And Mazey believes clubs should be looking to make sure advertising or a big screen may not prove the difference between what tier they are in,

He added: “If it came down to a percentage or points, something you might look at as trivial could prove the difference but in terms of driving standards, it’s all about TV and broadcasting.

“In theory, your stadium should be ready for broadcast, no matter the level you’re at.”




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