Rugby Trade Directory

Proposal to end relegation for top clubs put forward

Proposals have been put forward by Sports Management Company, IMG, to make 'Category A' clubs exempt from relegation from the Super League. 

Rugby league's strategic partner has proposed that top-flight clubs meet on and off-field criteria to be guaranteed their place in the league.

Among the other proposals is a joined-up calendar with international matches.

There is also a push for a strategy to boost the women's and girls' games.

Not all of the clubs involved in Super League would necessarily be Category A graded, with highest-ranked Category B clubs making up the division.

Those clubs' performance, in terms of on-field and off-field criteria, would be monitored on a yearly basis to decide which clubs made up the elite Super League, as it is presently known.

The remaining clubs would fill the second and third tier divisions, currently the Championship and League One - with clubs continuing to move between those leagues.

Rugby league and a form of licencing is no new concept, with Super League handing out three-year licences to clubs in 2009 before a period of reapplication, lasting until the 2015 season - when promotion and relegation returned.

The number of overseas clubs, such as French sides Catalans Dragons and Toulouse - who were both in the 2022 Super League - would also be capped under the plans, and standards imposed to support growth domestically.

Clubs will have chance to provide feedback on the proposals at a meeting on 13 October.

Other recommendations by IMG include:

  • A re-positioned calendar which optimises flow, narrative and engagement, incorporating regular "peaks" of interest and a compelling season climax.
  • Operations to be centralised where this can maximise efficiencies and drive incremental revenue (e.g. ticketing and digital infrastructure).
  • A new brand strategy to be introduced and aligned with the above commercial strategy.
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