Super League: Bradford Bulls today revealed for the first time the full cost of their controversial deal to sign Iestyn Harris as £550,000, writes Dave Craven.
More than four years after reaching a settlement figure with Leeds Rhinos – which has until now been kept confidential – the two Super League rivals have agreed to finally announce the sum in order to bring some much-needed clarity to the saga.
Some Bradford fans have historically blamed the Harris transfer as the reason for their continued financial plight which now sees them in administration and just days away from potentially being liquidated.
Administrator Brendan Guilfoyle reported no new interest in the cripppled club as a going concern over the weekend so the pressure is intensifying for a new buyer with much of the hope being laid on ex-chariman Chris Caisley.
However, with figures as high as £2m bandied around, Bradford are at pains to make sure fans now know the truth on the Harris transfer which took place in 2004.
A statement read: “The point was reached by 2008 where it was in the interests of both clubs to settle the matter out of court and Bradford agreed after a number of amicable meetings to pay Leeds an amount of £550,000, such amount to cover all costs and interest.
“The agreement was for the money to be paid over a period of three years and was so arranged because a new Sky TV contract was about to deliver to the club an additional £200,000 per annum. The club’s books show that over a period of three years legal costs of £79,032.13 were paid out in connection with this case, making the total cost to the club £629k.”
Harris won Man of Steel and led Leeds to a 1999 Challenge Cup success before switching codes with Cardiff Blues in a £1.6m deal.
But the Headingley club had first option to bring him back to rugby league prompting the legal battle when Bradford made their move.
The statement added: “At that time, transfer fees were more common than perhaps now, and the club would undoubtedly have paid a transfer fee for a player of Iestyn’s calibre. The directors are grateful to Leeds for allowing the true facts to come out and to indicate that their stance in this matter and the resulting settlement have not ultimately led to the problems which face the club at the present time.”