Dave Craven: Pitching in to sell a real Bradford beauty of iconic status

0
Have your say

There is a scene in the brilliant Sam Mendes film American Beauty where Annette Bening opens the doors of a property and defiantly declares: “I will sell this house today.”

Her character, Carolyn Burnham, is a realtor – estate agent, to you and I – and, after discarding her business suit to be left attired just in her underwear and marigolds, she sets about on a manic clean of the impressive abode all the time delivering the mantra: “I will sell this house today.”

She is preparing it for an open viewing and is diligently scrubbing windows, carpets, surfaces and the like adamant that she will, indeed, sell this house today.

Now, I am not suggesting for one minute that Brendan Guilfoyle is going to throw off his pinstripe number and do the same at Odsal.

For starters, anyone who has attended that concrete bowl over the years will affirm that there is very little, if anything, to polish at the famous old venue.

Regardless, Bradford Bulls do not own it so they cannot sell it.

But administrator Guilfoyle does find himself in that unenviable position of needing to find a buyer for the stricken club and, if he has not by this time next week, it will end up in liquidation.

He will be the one looking to extol its virtues, make it look all shiny, new and enticing.

With nothing forthcoming to this open house so far, Guilfoyle may have to go banging on doors drumming up business.

If nothing materialises soon, come Tuesday or Wednesday, you could well see him too, with a nervous smile, repeatedly saying: “I will sell this club today.”

Some think he is on a hiding to nothing. They just see the figures bandied around of £1.2m debts, losses of £100,000 per month and immediately baulk.

It is no surprise especially as the club has no tangible assets given the aforementioned sale of the Odsal lease to the RFL, a deal done at the end of last year which now looks increasingly foolish.

But, what are its selling points?

If I had to deliver a sales pitch I reckon there are plenty of positives to highlight.

Those debts have now been wiped clean. In essence, Guilfoyle is looking for someone to stump up around £750,000 to own one the game’s iconic names.

If it can be guaranteed that Bradford’s Super League status will be retained – and that should be possible – any new owner would have two years to get it back on track before the next round of licences.

Part of the club’s current plight has emerged, quite simply, because of some shockingly bad business decisions.

The cheap season-ticket deal, for one, but also selling its only asset in Odsal and ludicrously over-paying certain players and members of staff another.

It needs someone with cash to start funding the mess that was left but someone with genuine business acumen can also swiftly resurrect this fallen giant.

With 17 players and a head coach out of contract at the end of the season, the club’s biggest single cost – its wage bill – can soon be redefined into a far more manageable figure.

Another asset – although not in an accounting sense – is the club’s magnificent fan base.

It was not too long ago that the Bulls were averaging more than 15,000 per season. Yes, some have fallen by the wayside but any new owner with even a smidgen of common sense – who could offer ambition rather than lunacy – should know those lost supporters can be enticed back.

Those that remain have already shown their resolve and spirit by digging so deep to try and rescue the Bulls over Easter, many donating upwards of £100 each.

It is galling to know that hard-earned money is now gone.

Without wanting to spoil the film for anyone who has not seen it, American Beauty ends with one character biting the bullet in surprising circumstances.

Let us hope Gilfoyle can ensure there is no shock demise at the end of this tale. After all, he has something truly priceless to sell.