The Rugby Football League (RFL) has published the finer details of the grading system that will decide which teams compete in the Super League rugby league competition from 2025.
Stadium facilities and attendance are among the key criteria within the IMG-authored grading handbook, which features a full breakdown of how clubs can accrue the points that decide whether they will be allowed to compete in the sport’s top flight following a decision to scrap promotion and relegation. Check out the grading handbook here.
Following the publication of the handbook, all clubs will be given a provisional grading of A, B or C later this year, although the system will not come into play until next year. Clubs who scored 15 points or more will received a Grade A licence and be automatically in the 12-team Super League from 2025 and exempt from relegation. Those clubs will be joined in Super League by the highest-rated Grade B clubs, with Grade C barred from Super League.
The five pillars are fandom, performance, finances, stadium and community, with a total of 20 points available.
The stadium pillar makes up 15% of the total, with scores based on facilities, utilisation, primacy of tenure, LED and big screen.
Facilities consists of nine areas, most notably that capacity must be at least 5,000, with at least 2,000 seats.
Utilisation is calculated by the club’s average attendance for the season, as defined under the fandom attendance pillar, divided by the total stadium capacity. Primacy of tenure is defined as the club having an agreement that means there are no constraints on fixture scheduling for their stadium.
An additional bonus score of 0.125 is awarded if a club has LED advertising boards across a minimum of the TV arc, while 0.125 is added if there is a big screen, which should be at least 36.86m².
The fandom pillar is worth 25% of the total and is made up of scores based on attendance, viewership and digital. Clubs with an average attendance of more than 7,500 will receive the top score of 2.5, with those attracting fewer than 1,500 awarded 0.75.
IMG last year signed a 12-year strategic partnership with the RFL and Super League Europe to reimagine rugby league and its competitions in the UK.
The Rugby League Council, the sport’s decision-making body which comprises representatives from all three professional competitions and the community game in the UK, in April voted in favour of Club Grading – the first element of the Reimagining Rugby League strategy which includes assessing clubs on their stadium infrastructure.
Gradings will be reassessed annually, meaning that promotion and relegation between the tiers is expected to continue, although it will no longer be wholly determined by on-field performance.