Plans to end automatic promotion and relegation for Super League revealed | Super League

IMG, the global media company, has promised sweeping rugby league overhaul proposals – including a rankings system to determine which clubs play at Super League – will lead to significant positive changes.

On perhaps the most significant day for the sport since switching to a summer season in 1995, IMG’s recommendations are part of the first step in a 12-year strategic partnership signed this year.

This includes the abolition of conventional promotion and relegation between the Super League and the Championship from 2024. Clubs will be categorized as either A or B based on on- and off-pitch measures to be finalized during the year coming. They will then be told their standings at the end of next season, the last to have promotion and relegation on points and positions.

The rankings will be introduced as an indication in 2024 before the system is rolled out in 2025. Category A clubs are guaranteed a place in the top flight while the remaining Super League places will then be taken by category clubs B top rated. .

IMG hopes this will set standards throughout the game and that Tier B clubs will eventually become Tier A through off-pitch investment and on-pitch progression. Once the Super League has 12 Tier A clubs, the competition will expand, welcoming the next highest ranked Tier B clubs.

IMG vice-president of sport Matt Dwyer says rugby league must focus on improving its product – the off-field presentation of the sport – rather than the game, with an obsession with structure of the league which will probably not result in a significant change in the long term.

Speaking in Manchester, he said: “There has been a view that if we magically bring together the right combination it will lead to a huge increase in the fan base. Our view is that we looked in the wrong parts of the game.”

A major overhaul of the national calendar would aim to improve the product on the pitch. From 2024, loop fixtures will be abolished in Super League and the competition will consist of only 22 weekly rounds. This will reduce the demands on players and, according to IMG, improve the level of competition. IMG hasn’t ruled out renaming Super League, a matter that will be addressed in the second stage of their consultation process.

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A dedicated international window each mid-season and the changeover of the Challenge Cup final from August to May are also on the program. The clubs will meet on October 13 to discuss the plans and vote on them, in the hope that they will be approved and the changes to IMG will be approved.

This would give clubs a two-year window to achieve Grade A status before the system is fully implemented in 2025. The Guardian has been told the plans have been welcomed by most clubs, believing the sport must be “bold and courageous” in supporting IMG’s projects.

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