Magic Weekend disappears and traditional system is torn in IMG plan

MAGIC Weekend will disappear in rugby league’s biggest upheaval in 26 years.

The traditional structure of promotion and relegation is also being torn apart.

Magic Weekend is set to be scrapped for rugby league as part of IMG's plan

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Magic Weekend is set to be scrapped for rugby league as part of IMG’s planPhoto credit: SWPIX.COM

As SunSport revealed yesterday, looping matches will be removed from the Super League calendar as sports media giant IMG ‘reinvents’ the 13v13 code.

But his showpiece, slated to return to Newcastle next year, will disappear in a 22-game ‘less is more’ strategy from 2024.

SunSport understands some clubs voting on the recommendations weren’t happy, but images of games played to empty pitches have been shown as an argument why it should go.

IMG’s Matt Dwyer, who led the review, said: “There is some evidence and perception that we may be cannibalizing ourselves with our events.

“Our focus is on reviving the Challenge Cup. As a concept, we are not negative about the Magic Weekend. We want to see how we can work on it in the future.

“But it is not part of the short to medium term. We have to bring a certain level of scarcity into our key games.”

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IMG’s involvement as a 12-year ‘strategic partner’ is set to help maximize rugby league revenues.

From 2025, clubs will be placed in either A, B or C category on an annual basis, ending the concept of bottom-up auto-top-up.

Category A clubs are guaranteed a place in the Super League, while category B clubs are placed in the top division and in the league based on criteria, with enough numbers needed to make the 12.

It is understood that there will only be five or six Category A clubs when the factors yet to be agreed are finalized. Category C teams can only play in the Championship or League One.

Dwyer added: “The aim is to get to a point where the top 12 clubs are in Category A. Then we will try to expand.”

Empty seats are seen as the reason for this - the ascent and descent are also mixed up

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Empty seats are seen as the reason for this – the ascent and descent are also shaken upPhoto credit: SWPIX.COM

Eager to separate the game – the spectacle on the pitch – from the product – everything around it – Dwyer emphasized, “The revenue driver is the product, that’s what we need to focus our attention on.”

Other recommendations include moving the Challenge Cup final to May and an annual mid-season test between England and France, one of three growth markets identified alongside London and women’s football.

The salary cap is under review, with a “salary cap” proposed, while IMG also wants to limit non-British clubs in the structure to two – there are already Catalans Dragons and Toulouse Olympique.

A new event, “Something Else”, will also be introduced as the new plan does not encourage Boom and Bust.

Dwyer said: “The idea is to prevent that. We’re trying to get everyone upstairs.”

https://www.the-sun.com/sport/6326744/magic-weekend-promotion-relegation-rugby-league/ Magic Weekend disappears and traditional system is torn in IMG plan

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