A furious Keighley Cougars have called their provisional IMG ranking “an insult” as they face a huge fight to make future progress in rugby league.

Having no academy or women’s team, plus a stadium in real need of modernising, has hampered their score, and they only totalled 6.58, putting them 30th out of the 35 clubs in the top three tiers.

It leaves them miles away from Super League, with an almighty amount of work to do in order to have any chance of ever being a top-flight club.

While the club say they are happy to work hard to improve their grading, they have pointed out several areas where they feel they have been undervalued.

In an explosive statement this morning, Cougars said: “Keighley Cougars have today received their illustrative IMG grading for the year ending 2023 and we see our rank of 30th as an insult to our club and fans 

“While disappointed with 30th place, the club are committed to working on granular improvements within the grading pillars and will continue throughout 2024 to increase our IMG points position for 2025. 

"We would hope we can do this on a fair and level playing field with a merged League 1 and Championship competition, which we believe gives parity between all clubs outside Super League.”

Keighley News: Keighley Cougars will work towards a solution, but are finding it hard to believe they scored so poorly with IMG.Keighley Cougars will work towards a solution, but are finding it hard to believe they scored so poorly with IMG. (Image: JT Sports Media.)

Pointing out what they feel has gone unrecognised by the RFL since the O’Neill takeover at the start of 2019, Cougars said: “Keighley Cougars have achieved great things over the last four years.

“Our chairman Mick O’Neill has been awarded an MBE for services to rugby league, while Cougars were promoted to the Championship in 2022 after an unbeaten League 1 season.

“Cougars have also had national media coverage in both print and broadcast and on occasions have had much higher reach and engagements than those considered to be A grade clubs (currently Leeds, Wigan, St Helens, Catalans, Warrington, Hull KR and Hull FC).

“The club has pioneered LGBTQ+ rights and built an inclusive community in Keighley, the Cougars have won RFL and Bradford Council awards for the last three years and our crowds have doubled since the takeover.”

In conclusion, Cougars added: “While all this success doesn’t fit with IMG’s grading criteria, we will continue to work with them and diversify into the spreadsheet era of rugby league.

“Supporters can play their part by continuing to like share, comment, engage and follow all our content on social media platforms.”