Richard Hercock: Time for Brown to pedal away but who will ride in for Bulls?

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I do not know which has dragged on longer – the Tour de France or the financial mess which Bradford Bulls find themselves in.

Thankfully, in the Hercock household, the cycling concluded yesterday in Paris. It is up there with Formula 1 as a sport I struggle to warm to.

I am not sure if it is the fact so much emphasis is placed on the machine or the team – rather than the individual – but I usually reach for the remote control when it appears on my television.

Now, with Bradford the problems have mounted up over several months leading to administration and potential takeovers.

The administrator, Brendan Guilfoyle, was forced to make coach Mick Potter and 15 backroom staff redundant to save cash; the Rugby Football League had to help out by forwarding the Bulls’ television handout so the players could be paid and the club are limping along.

It is heartbreaking to see one of rugby league’s great names dragged through the gutter.

The knights on the horizon are the ABC consortium, a group of five Asian businesses in the city who have been in hushed talks with the RFL and the administrator to try and buy the Bulls.

One of the group is Akbar’s restaurant chain, and their managing director, Shabir Hussain, which is a real success story with a list of eateries in the north.

Online chat has quickly put two and two together and predicted five, fearing all the consortium want is the prime location of Odsal to build a mega Akbar’s.

I suppose it would bring a new chant to the terraces of Odsal, ‘Korma you Bulls’ and make for some delicious Balti Pies at half-time.

Seriously, though, administrator Guilfoyle has hardly been inundated with offers to pump in £1m and buy the Bulls so the ABC consortium have to be taken seriously if they can provide the finances and business expertise to make the club a success again.

One of the plus points for Bradford supporters has been their success on the pitch in the face of such adversity. It would have been all too easy for the players to use the off-field troubles as an excuse for failure.

But heading into Friday’s game with Leeds Rhinos, Bradford had won four Super League games out of five, including a stunning win against Wigan Warriors.

A points deduction may end their play-off hopes this season, but at least whoever does buy Bradford will have a talented group of players at their disposal.

Last week was certainly a strange time in the rugby league world. Usually, Super League coaches are pretty secure in their jobs – unlike their opposite numbers in football’s Premier League.

But last week we saw the unusual occurence of two coaches getting fired within 24 hours.

First, Nathan Brown, below, paid for a terrible run of form which saw Huddersfield Giants lose eight out of nine games, then the next day Rob Powell suffered the same fate when he was fired by London Broncos, who are bottom of Super League with just three wins from their 20 matches.

It was a sad farewell for Brown, who has helped transform the Giants – with the help of owner Ken Davy – into a real force in Super League and a genuine top-four contender.

At the Challenge Cup final three years ago, the team he had then promised so much for the future. On that day at Wembley, they failed to compete with Warrington, not helped by a couple of debatable decisions, but there was optimism at the Galpharm Stadium that something exciting was happening.

Last season, they flirted with the Grand Final, but just fell short, and I wonder what would have happened if they could have retained talismanic full-back Brett Hodgson.

He left to join Warrington, but the Australian is pure class despite his 34 years of age and would have helped coax along the talented bunch of youngsters now part of the Giants set-up.

The problem with Brown is he was on borrowed time once he made public that he would be leaving at the end of the season and joining St Helens.

Just one win – and that against lowly London – in eight league matches had seen Huddersfield slide from first to seventh and all the eggs were placed in their Challenge Cup semi-final basket against Hodgson’s Warrington.

At the pre-match press conference, Brown suggested that he and the players had held ‘clear the air’ talks after a humiliating 52-6 loss at Castleford.

Following a one-sided semi-final defeat, however, Brown went further in suggesting the players had been behind a change in tactics and personnel.

Maybe he had not quite lost the dressing room but the writing was on the wall and it was no surpise to hear the axe had fallen soon after.

It reminds me of Sir Alex Ferguson, who saw his Manchester United side slump in form after he announced he would be retiring. Players are only human and no matter what they say, to lose a vital cog in the team does have psychological impact.

With Giants club captain Kevin Brown leaving for Widnes this winter, it really is the end of an era at Huddersfield.

Brown’s No 2, Paul Anderson, who was going to take over at the end of the season, now has six games to try and salvage the Giants’ season and keep them in the running for the play-offs. What are the odds of Huddersfield facing Saints in the end-of-season climax, sudden death knock-out?

If we are to get a Yorkshire winner on October 3 at Old Trafford, it will have to have been achieved the hard way as no White Rose club occupies a top-four spot.

At Bradford, Bulls fans will just be hoping they still have a Super League club come the Grand Final. They have my support.

Now where is my Olympics pull-out? I must look when to plan my afternoon at Meadowhall to avoid the cycling.