Bradford Bulls’ ownership saga took a step closer towards resolution last night after more than six hours of crunch talks at Odsal.
It appears owner Omar Khan has agreed to a deal that will facilitate a handover of the troubled Super League club to their current directors.
However, it is only reached “in principle” and does not mean Bradford, crippled by financial issues for the last two years, are necessarily clear of their woes.
There are many complex problems to be dealt with in the weeks and months ahead and it seems more cost-cutting at the West Yorkshire outfit is unavoidable.
It does, though, assuage concerns from players, coaches, staff and supporters that the club – in administration before Khan took over in September 2012 – could again be on the brink of ruin.
The Rugby Football League attended a meeting yesterday afternoon looking to smooth the fractious relationship between Khan and the present regime that had threatened to bring the famous three-times World Club champions to their knees again.
A statement released at 9pm read: “Bradford Bulls can tonight confirm that an agreement regarding the club’s ownership has, in principle, been reached.
“A meeting between all parties concerned, including current and former directors, along with representatives of the Rugby Football League, was staged at Bulls’ Provident Stadium home earlier today.
“And details of its outcome are to be finalised in due course, allowing the Bulls to continue to be directed by Ian Watt and Andrew Calvert.
“Former chairman Mark Moore is to continue to work as part of the club for the benefit of supporters, staff and partners.
“The club will be making no further comment at this time.”
Bradford had been taken over by Moore and then general manager Ryan Whitcut when Khan stood down in October citing ill health.
Watt and Calvert later joined the board of directors as investors, but the new team quickly warned supporters in early December that they faced yet another cash crisis and needed to save £400,000 to survive.
Redundancies were made and yet more uncertainty was created when the trio quit completely on Christmas Eve, Whitcut already gone having failed the RFL’s fit and proper person test.
Moore, Watt and Calvert, who claimed they found “massive holes” in the club’s finances, argued they had to leave after Khan refused to hand over his shares to complete a takeover.
Khan, in turn, had started legal action against Moore and Whitcut claiming they had not paid him an agreed undisclosed sum for the sale of the business.
However, the RFL intervened at the start of last week and held a “constructive” meeting with all parties after which the trio revealed in a statement that they would continue to “direct” the business.
But it has since emerged, according to Companies House, that Moore actually terminated his appointment as director of OK Bulls Limited on December 20, four days before that Christmas Eve announcement.
It appears he will not be part of the new board if the deal – brokered yesterday with the help of RFL chief operating officer Ralph Rimmer and director of licensing and standards Blake Solly – is eventually concluded.
Furthermore, it is understood Khan, who joined the meeting with Moore and Watt also in attendance, will still continue with that legal action.
From the football side of the operation, head coach Francis Cummins was relieved to hear, at least, progress is being made.
“It gives us an extra amount of certainty in what we’re doing and more confidence in where we are,” he told the Yorkshire Post last night.
“Hopefully, it’s off we go now but obviously I have to wait and see exactly what’s involved.
“This does give us more clarity, though, on who’s running the club and we can look forward to our first pre-season game.”
That is against Hull FC at Odsal on Sunday week and their Super League campaign starts at home to Castleford Tigers on February 16.