Bulls consortium’s ‘unacceptable’ offer rejected by RFL as Sutcliffe joins race

Bradford South MP Gerry Sutcliffe
Bradford South MP Gerry Sutcliffe
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Pressure mounted on the ABC consortium last night after the Rugby Football League turned down their bid for financially-crippled Bradford Bulls ruling it was “unacceptable.”

Administrator Brendan Guilfoyle had set a deadline of later today to find a buyer to prevent the Super League club from entering liquidation.

He is likely to now extend that to try and help push through a deal but ABC – whose original leader, Akbar’s restaurant managing director Shabir Hussain, has opted to work independently – will certainly now know the governing body will not relent in their aims.

The RFL has long insisted it would not consider any bids with clauses attached to them and they emphatically stuck to their word yesterday.

ABC, a group of Asian businessmen, had tabled an offer believed to be around £2.5m on Tuesday but it was based on assurances about Bradford’s Super League licence and being able to buy back the Odsal Stadium lease from the RFL.

Both demands have been met with distaste and so, it was with no great surprise, when the governing body yesterday rejected their proposal.

Hussain, meanwhile, had withdrawn from the bid before it was actually tabled.

An Akbar’s representative last night told the Yorkshire Post they would, instead, be willing to “unconditionally” pay Bradford up to £50,000 cash per annum for the next three years.

They are waiting to see if ABC’s second attempt is successful before making any formal approach to the administrator.

Former Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe did meet with Guilfoyle in a fresh development yesterday.

The Bradford South MP was representing a late-arriving rival bid led by Bradford curry house boss Omar Khan.

However, Guilfoyle told the Yorkshire Post: “I’ve had a meeting with Gerry Sutcliffe and we discussed how they might approach buying the Bradford Bulls.

“That was the extent of the meeting. Any suggestions of anything more is certainly wide of the mark. I haven’t had a bid from any parties associated with Gerry Sutcliffe.”

Khan’s intended offer is understood to have had the same conditions as that of ABC which, again, makes it impossible for the RFL to sanction.

Bulls have effectively given up their Super League licence by entering administration, a move which also cost them six points.

Any buyer would have to satisfy the RFL of their intentions before the club was readmitted to the league and, although the governing body have the final say on the Super League licence, they are obligated to consult the other 13 clubs who are known to be split on the subject.

Subsequently, although a deal for the Odsal lease could be arranged, there are no guarantees about Bradford playing in Super League in 2013.

Dill Butt, Akbar’s corporate director, told the Yorkshire Post: “Earlier this week, Mr Hussain decided to pull out of the ABC consortium and operate independently.

“We (Akbar’s) have actually agreed to bail out Bradford Bulls from their current financial situation by pledging between £25,000 and £50,000 cash – the final sum is still being decided – per annum over the next three years straight to their coffers.

“We’re more than happy to step in and show our support and it will be unconditional. It is not for any personal, business or commercial gain other than to help the Bradford Bulls.

“We don’t want a say in how the club is run or a say in any future plans, this is just to help their cash flow.

“Obviously, we’d like to see it used in a sensible way to help the club move forward rather than paying off old debts but that is our current position.”

The RFL statement read: “The RFL has today informed the business consortium which has tabled an offer to the administrator of Bradford Bulls that the conditions attached to their proposal to acquire the club are unacceptable.

“The offer was submitted in writing on Tuesday but after careful consideration the RFL Board of Directors has deemed its conditional nature to be unreasonable and unrealistic.

“Details of a further offer for Bradford Bulls are currently being assessed by the RFL, which will continue to work with the administrator to help find new owners for the club.”

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