Bulls new owners left fearing points deduction after completing sale

Bradford coach Francis Cummins
Bradford coach Francis Cummins
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BRADFORD BULLS are facing the threat of a second points deduction in two years after the ongoing saga over the troubled Super League club took a new twist.

The Bulls yesterday announced that they had completed a change of ownership from OK Bulls Ltd, the company established by former owner Omar Khan.

OK Bulls Ltd was this week placed into administration but a new company, Bradford Bulls 2014, has been immediately set up to take over the running of the club.

The latest development follows the collapse of a deal to transfer Khan’s shares to the three directors currently in charge.

David Wilson, of Leeds-based DFW Associates, who was appointed administrator of the club’s former holding company, confirmed he had completed the sale to the new company.

Wilson said: “Upon the sanction of the Rugby Football League, we will have concluded the sale of the club to Bradford Bulls 2014 Ltd.

“It had not proved possible to resolve the ownership of the company with the previous owner and, as a result, the company’s financial position had become untenable.”

All players, employees and assets have been transferred to the new company, who will continue to function as Bradford Bulls under new directors Andrew Calvert, Mark Moore and Ian Watt, alongside chief executive Robbie Hunter-Paul.

The club say they now intend to approach the RFL to discuss the future and seek to avoid a points deduction, as the board of directors have stated their intentions to continue to work with creditors.

A Bulls spokesperson said: “Although a resolution wasn’t found after all avenues were exhausted, we feel the new company will give the club’s supporters much-needed clarity in terms of who is running, directing and owning their club.”

An RFL spokesman confirmed they will meet the club’s new owners next week to discuss their plans and determine what sanctions, if any, the club will face.

At worst, the club could forfeit their membership of the RFL and Super League but another points deduction appears the likely outcome.

The Bulls kick-off the new season against Castleford in a fortnight’s time.

The RFL spokesman said: “The club has kept us informed all along. It is disappointing that the agreement we reached on January 9 has not been implemented and that the club has been left with no alternative but to take this course of action.

“We will be meeting with the current management team early next week to listen to their plans and confirm the position of the club.”

Bradford have lurched from one crisis to another over the last two years.

They went into administration in June, 2012 with debts thought to be around £1.5m, but were saved by local businessman Khan and MP Gerry Sutcliffe three months later.

They were subsequently docked six competition points, which ultimately cost them a place in the 2012 play-offs.

Previously, Wakefield and Crusaders were docked four points when they entered administration after the RFL directors took into account the new owners’ willingness to pay some of the debts to creditors.

Khan stepped down last September, citing illness, and was subsequently replaced by the three new directors, who appeared confident of further stabilising the club, despite operating on half the central funding for a second successive year as part of the deal to keep their Super League status.

However, in December the new directors revealed they had discovered a “black hole” in the budget for 2014 and needed to find £400,000 to avoid plunging back into administration.

The club managed to streamline the business with the aid of wages cuts and redundancies among the administative staff, sparing coach Francis Cummins of the need to sell players.

The new directors resigned en bloc on Christmas Eve after being unable to secure an agreement with Khan on the transfer of shares but returned six days later following talks brokered by the RFL.

This season, two clubs will be relegated from Super League following the end of licensing in order to make way for a new 
12-team league in 2015.