Hunslet are among the clubs that have opted not to vote in favour of IMG’s proposals for `Reimagining Rugby League’ in the northern hemisphere at today’s Rugby League Council meeting
The Parksiders, who are the only professional supporter-owned club in the country, held a meeting last night (Tuesday 18 April 2023) at which not a single vote was cast in favour of IMG’s plans; there were two abstentions.
One of the south Leeds outfit’s contentions, which is shared by others, is that the Rugby Football League, which has instructed clubs to decide, in a four-week consultation period, their stance (following some six months during which IMG collated its investigations) has so far declined to submit its internally-published booklet in which full details of IMG’s plans and proposals are contained. Hunslet are therefore among those who do not feel able to rationally support an initiative into which they would be `voting blind’.
In addition, there are major concerns regarding what has actually been ascertained so far. IMG’s plans concern off-field matters, several of which Hunslet accept need to be addressed. But while the Parksiders, as a Betfred League 1 outfit, are not currently directly affected by a key aspect – that promotion from the Championship to Super League would not be solely dependent on winning the Championship Grand Final – that factor, it is felt, is not for the benefit of the sport as a whole. Nor, indeed, would it be for any spectator sport.
It was stressed, at the meeting, that clubs playing in a Championship Grand Final could quite feasibly go into the game aware that a side lower down the table had already secured the Super League berth through amassing more rating points in the Club Grading System, which relates to such as ground suitability and catchment area. “How,” asked one delegate, “do you explain to a potential new supporter that although your team is ten points clear at the head of the table, you might not get promoted through not having enough off-field points? It’s not designed to attract more fans, in my view, in fact it could drive them away.”
Hunslet already have direct experience of the negative impact of being denied promotion through issues other than achievements by players and coaches, their dreams of Super League membership being thwarted, in the aftermath of their Grand Final victory in 1999, on the basis that their South Leeds Stadium wasn’t deemed suitable for the top flight. Home attendances subsequently plummeted from an average of around 2,000 to 500 as supporters, disillusioned with Rugby League, deserted in droves.