Bradford Bulls could, in theory at least, have their six-point deduction for entering administration overturned after being granted an appeal by the Rugby Football League.
The Super League club – hit with the punishment on February 25 – won two of their first three games this season, but remain on minus two at the foot of the table after five successive league defeats. No Super League side has ever had a points deduction reduced so any victory for Bradford would set a precedent – and surely infuriate those around them at the bottom of the league.
Wakefield Trinity Wildcats and Crusaders both accepted their punishment after being docked four points in 2011 for breaching the insolvency regulations and Bradford did likewise after losing six points two years ago. But, back then, there was no relegation. That returns this year with the bottom two demoted so Bulls clearly believe they have nothing to lose in seeking a reprieve.
The appeal has been lodged on the grounds the insolvency arose solely as a result of force majeure, in that the club’s administration occurred in unforeseeable and unavoidable circumstances.
It will be heard by an independent sporting sanctions appeal panel chaired by a qualified solicitor or barrister and featuring at least two other members, one of whom must be a fully qualified insolvency practitioner.
The panel has the discretionary power to instruct an independent firm of accountants or alternative expert to provide evidence to assist them.
The RFL board will be bound by the decision of the panel, which can do one of three things – confirm the deduction of six points; set aside the deduction of six points and substitute a deduction of fewer points or order that there shall be no deduction at all.
As yet, there is no date for the appeal but it is expected to be convened shortly. The West Yorkshire club fell into administration in January but Leeds-based businessman Marc Green took them over around three weeks ago.
The RFL board of directors has some discretion where clubs pay some debt and Green is a main creditor, having loaned around £150,000 to the club last year.
Bradford have secured Danny Bridge on a season-long loan from Warrington but prop Anthony Mullally has returned to parent club Huddersfield Giants, whose full-back Scott Grix faces a disciplinary tonight for allegedly striking Hull FC’s Gareth Ellis.