Rugby league is set to welcome the globally recognized sports industry company, IMG, as the sport’s new strategic partner.
Rugby League Live can reveal that the company, which is part of the UFC-owner Endeavor Group, will lead the sport’s strategic planning once the realignment between Rugby Football League and Super League Europe is finalised.
A strategic working group had previously been formed to prepare the direction of the sports trip before forwarding its recommendations to a partner to deliver the proposal.
That partner will be IMG, which has worked in many sports around the world and owns and runs sporting events around the world.
Among their repertoire of events are the Madrid and Miami Tennis Open, the World’s Strongest Man and the UFC, which has produced stars like Connor McGregor and Ronda Rousey. They also own the international broadcast rights to the FA Cup.
The company, which won the tender for Betfred Super League coverage on Channel 4, recently confirmed plans to open a new office in Leeds. Its headquarters are in New York.
It’s a huge blow for rugby league as part of the sport’s plans for a brighter future.
The sport’s strategic planning group includes Leeds Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington, St Helens chairman Eamonn McManus, Hull KR chief executive Paul Lakin, Warrington Wolves chairman Stuart Middleton, RFL chief executive Ralph Rimmer and the director of operations and legal of the governing body Karen Moorhouse. Together they crafted a plan for the future of the sport which will now be led by the expertise of IMG.
Contacted by Rugby League Live, an RFL spokesperson said: “RFL and Super League Europe are in advanced discussions regarding a possible strategic partnership to maximize the commercial potential of the sport, in line with plans outlined last autumn with the appointment of a strategic working group. All parties have agreed that these discussions should remain confidential, so we are unable to comment further – although we hope to provide further clarity, which we believe will be good welcomed by the sport as a whole in the near future.