Four bidders remain in race to save Bradford Bulls

Bradford Bulls celebrate winning  the Championsip Sheild Final at Odsal.
Bradford Bulls celebrate winning the Championsip Sheild Final at Odsal.
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Four serious bidders remain in contention to rescue Bradford, according to the administrator running the crisis-torn former Super League club.

Around 12 parties expressed an interest in saving the Bulls since they were placed in administration earlier this month - for the third time in five years - to fight off a winding-up petition brought by HM Revenue and Customs.

That number has been whittled down by administrator Gary Pettit to four before a self-imposed deadline of Friday and, although all parties are bound by a confidentially agreement, he is confident of a successful outcome.

“We imposed a deadline to get indicative offers and that has got the number of serious contenders down to four,” said Pettit, managing director of Northampton-based company PBC Business, Recovery and Insolvency.

“It is fair to say they are the four that we anticipated and it’s quite an exciting choice of people. It is my belief that any one or a combination thereof would be an asset. All the people who are interested know how sport and how rugby ticks.

“It is looking very promising. I believe it is now a question of when rather than if. We are now into the due diligence stage, down to the nitty gritty if you like.”

Pettit is in regular contact with the Rugby Football League, which has withdrawn Bradford’s membership of the league and has the power to impose a sporting sanction of up to 12 league points.

The Bulls, who are thought to have debts of around £1million, could be handed a more lenient punishment if the buyers are prepared to pay off the bulk of the debt.

According to Pettit, there are still two stages to get through once an offer is accepted.

“The deal has got to be approved by the creditors and also the RFL before they can consider the question of reinstating the club’s membership,” he said.

“The sporting sanction can be reduced to six and is discretionary on the part of the RFL.

“It’s a tight league and the last thing they want is to start the season thinking we need to win three games just to get parity.”

Pettit is hoping to conclude a sale by mid-December, well before the Bulls’ opening Championship match on February 5.

“I recognise that everyone wants to see matters concluded as quickly as is possible,” he said.

“I believe we are making solid progress but this is not an overnight procedure and nothing can be guaranteed. However, I would like to think we can move to completion within a couple of weeks.

“We need to act quickly because February 5 is not too far away.”

Pettit says the RFL, which currently owns the lease on Bradford’s Odsal Stadium, will have a role to play before any sale can be completed.

“In our continuing discussions with RFL, both they and we have been very clear that we want to find the right deal, which aims to prevent any recurrence of the current unfortunate position,” Pettit added.

“I am very confident that the RFL - given their duty to protect the wider interests of the game - will continue to assist by sharing their experience. This will ensure that the administration process is concluded as swiftly and as efficiently as is possible.

“We recognise that the cultural capital of the club is vital. We also recognise that it remains a priority to safeguard the Bulls’ heritage and legacy.”