BRADFORD Bulls’ chief executive Robbie Hunter-Paul last night insisted the club’s current board is the best candidate to bring the famous name back from the brink.
Chairman Mark Moore, with directors Ian Watt, Andrew Calvert and Hunter-Paul, are waiting to see if they have secured ownership of the Super League outfit for certain.
OK Bulls Ltd, its former holding company owned by Omar Khan, was placed into administration on January 31.
Its appointed administrator David Wilson agreed to sell the club to Bradford Bulls 2014 Ltd, which had been set up by Moore and co last November, but on the proviso it only operated under a temporary 28-day Super League licence, during which time other offers would be considered.
Wilson’s deadline for bidders to make their move for the Bulls will pass tonight with a number of parties believed to have expressed an interest.
London-based businessman Richard Lamb has been the most public prospective new owner and he met with Wilson yesterday.
But Hunter-Paul, who has been running the club with the current board since last September, says the regime in situ have everything in place to reverse Bradford’s much-publicised decay over the last two years.
“Of course it has been a tough few months and not how anyone sets out to work in business,” he told the Yorkshire Post, having overseen major cutbacks and player departures, too.
“But the team in control at the moment have real confidence in moving things forward with the business.
“The interesting thing about this board of directors is they have effectively run this business and done all the due diligence in the last five months.
“Curveball after curveball has been thrown at this team, but they have dug their heels in and become more and more determined and the good thing about us is we’re ready to move.
“We don’t need to get up to speed on understanding anything and we’ve already staged one Super League game. If the business is taken over by someone else there is a lot of work involved including the licence and many other things to be considered.
“People think it’s as easy as just paying the players, but that’s not the case, especially at a ground like the Provident Stadium, too. There are a lot of issues there.”
To read the thoughts of Bradford’s Brett Kearney ahead of Thursday night’s clash with Wakefield Wildcats click HERE
Most pertinently, Hunter-Paul highlights the risk any prospective new owner would run of losing further players from a squad already light in numbers and facing a potential points deduction for breaking insolvency rules.
They saw Craig Kopczak walk out on his contract in 2012 when they were taken over by new owners after their last spell in administration and Garreth Carvell has done so this time around, to join Hull FC.
A player is legally within his rights to do so – under the Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment Regulation (TUPE) – if he gives notice on the day of the change of ownership.
But any prospective buyer would be purchasing OK Bulls Ltd – not Bradford Bulls 2014 Ltd – from the administrator, so opening up another chance for other players to follow Carvell’s lead in that 24-hour slot.
Hunter-Paul, who won every honour in the game during his 12 years as a player at Bradford, admitted: “They would have to go through the TUPE process once again and that’s the risk another business will take on if it came in and acquired the club.
“We believe we have a squad which is rich in talent but not deep in numbers and anyone else contemplating buying this club has to know there are some grey areas there.
“We have that confidence, though, in our own ability to achieve Super League survival in the first place and then towards the back end of the season see where we are.”
After losing their opening game against Castleford Tigers on Sunday, Bradford head to Wakefield Trinity Wildcats tonight looking to pick up their first win and, also, for some clarity regarding their future.
The Rugby Football League have met various interested parties and Lamb has already passed the fit and proper persons test, but it is understood no deal has been finalised.
“I’ve not spoken to the administrator today but we were contacted last night (Tuesday) and told one (party) had walked away,” continued Hunter-Paul.
“There’s a balancing act to be made by the governing body and the administrator to work out what is best.
“The administrator’s job is to focus on what’s going to be best for the creditors and our governing body needs to focus on what’s best for the sport.
“They (the RFL) are confident that in us they have a good unit that’s in control and we’re definitely offering to work with every single creditor.
“When this board effectively took over it was discovered the business was running well beyond its means so cuts did have to be made. But we are in a stronger position now and have the right people in place.
“It is a working board, too, with everyone on it having a position in the business.
“We have some real nice income generators in place and we’re working hard with a lot of partners to upgrade those.
“But we just need that green light. We want to give ourselves and the players the best possible opportunity to allow themselves to be successful.”
Wakefield Trinity v Bradford Bulls preview: Page 23.