IMG deal will ‘reimagine’ rugby league

The Rugby Football League and Super League Europe issued a joint statement to announce the widely expected 12-year agreement.

By Press Association Published: 10 May 2022 - 3.01pm

Rugby league has confirmed a long-term deal with IMG which its governing bodies say will restructure and “reimagine” the sport in order to maximise its commercial potential.

The Rugby Football League and Super League Europe issued a joint statement to announce the widely expected 12-year agreement with the New York-based global sports, events and talent management company.

The statement read: “The Rugby Football League (RFL) and Super League Europe today announce a 12-year strategic partnership with IMG.. to reimagine Rugby League and its competitions in the UK.

Castleford Tigers v Leeds Rhinos – Betfred Super League – The Mend-A-Hose Jungle
IMG have vowed to help “reimagine” domestic rugby league (Danny Lawson/PA)

“IMG has assembled a team of experts across its Media business and the Endeavor network to work with the newly combined entity on strategically repositioning the sport to maximise its commercial potential for long-term growth, build deeper relationships with fans and attract new audiences.

“The agency will initially focus on competition restructuring, content production and innovation, domestic and international distribution of media rights, digital transformation.. [and] streaming[.]”

IMG, which was taken over in 2013 by Endeavour which owns UFC, represents and manages some of the world’s greatest sports figures and fashion icons and stages hundreds of live events and branded entertainment experiences annually.

“The Rugby Football League (RFL) and Super League Europe today announce a 12-year strategic partnership with IMG.. to reimagine Rugby League and its competitions in the UK.”
- RFL and Super League statement

The move follows an agreement over realignment proposals in March, in which the respective boards of the RFL and Super League announced their intention to form a new joint-venture company that would handle all the game’s commercial assets, including media rights and sponsorship.

RFL chair Simon Johnson said: “In recent years, an immense amount of work has gone on, in initially protecting the sport through the pandemic and then setting it on a course for real growth.

“The governance re-alignment was key and a prerequisite to attracting a partnership such as this.

“IMG is a global giant in the sports and entertainment industry and this alliance is fantastically exciting for our future.

“Coupled with the men’s, women’s and wheelchair World Cups which are set for the Autumn on home soil, I have no doubt that 2022 will now prove to be a watershed year in the history of Rugby League – and this announcement will be the keystone in future success.”

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