All of Bradford Bulls’ rivals will have a say in whether the club can continue in Super League if they come out of administration.
However, the man appointed to save the West Yorkshire club from liquidation last night warned there are no guarantees he will find a buyer.
That is the stark reality facing the four-time Super League champions today as the battle begins in earnest to rescue one of the most famous names in rugby league.
Bradford’s players and staff were told yesterday morning that the club had been placed in administration after their directors had failed to find new investment to pay off a crippling tax debt.
And joint-administrator Brendan Guilfoyle, from insolvency firm The P&A Partnership, conceded to the Yorkshire Post: “If I don’t get £300,000 within the next 10 days to pay wages, then this club goes into liquidation.
“And there’s no reason to believe anyone is going to come forward.
“I’m holding my breath they will but I can categorically say the rumours that this (administration) is planned is wrong.”
Even if Bradford do get a new owner – and as little as £750,000 could actually purchase the club – they would need to have their Super League licence ratified by the Rugby Football League after the governing body decided to crack down on those breaking insolvency rules.
An investigation, dating back three years, will also take place into the club’s finances.
The RFL Board of Directors could hit them with a six-point deduction, ruining their play-off hopes, but they also have to take into account the views of the remaining clubs in Super League who, in theory, could vote for the Bulls’ licence to be revoked.
With numerous chairmen, including Hull KR’s Neil Hudgell and St Helens’ Eamonn McManus, recently expressing their forthright views that the number of teams in the competition should be reduced, Bradford may be extra fearful for their future.
However, Guilfoyle is hopeful that someone will see the vast potential available in such an iconic name and salvage the club.
“It wouldn’t cost very much at all really,” he said.
“There are no assets to touch. There’s a valuable player (John Bateman), maybe, but over and above that there’s very little here.
“It would be less than a million pounds – maybe three-quarters.
“We’ve gone to the nuclear option with administration and the button has been pushed.
“But I’m hoping that will be seen as a positive move by potential purchasers and they will now come forward and talk to me about buying the club.
“The sum involved is now less than would have been as they don’t have to pay historic debt – mainly to people like HMRC – and someone can start with a clean slate.
“This club could be breaking even by 2014 and I don’t believe you can have a Super League without Bradford Bulls.”
Bradford’s acting-chairman Stephen Coulby and his fellow directors needed £1.2m to pay off those debts and see the club through until the end of the season.
They included £80,000 in PAYE tax from May and the same amount for June, plus an outstanding VAT bill of £250,000 from the sale of the Odsal lease to the RFL.
The directors had managed to attract £800,000 onto the table from a number of parties before accepting defeat and Coulby now hopes, if no one else emerges, those same people could collaborate to make the purchase.
In the meantime, however, Guilfoyle admits he cannot rule out selling players or making redundancies, possibly even before Friday’s game at Super League leaders Wigan Warriors.
How did world champions come to this? Page 20.