The administrator at Bradford Bulls believes the ABC consortium offer the “only hope” of rescuing the troubled Stobart Super League club.
Today’s £200,000 wages bill – the Bulls faced liquidation before Tuesday night’s deadline was extended to July 27 – was only met after the Rugby Football League agreed to forward cash payments from the Sky TV deal.
Coach Mick Potter and 15 of the Bulls’ full-time backroom staff were made redundant last week to save cash, such is the perilous financial position at Odsal.
Brendan Guilfoyle, partner at The P&A Partnership and administrator at the Bulls, has been in negotiations with ABC about a possible £1m rescue package.
The consortium is made up of five Bradford businesses, including the city’s restaurant chain Akbar’s and managing director Shabir Hussain plus property developers, but as part of the deal they want assurances the Bulls will be allowed to remain in Super League when they exit administration, and to buy back the Odsal lease from the RFL.
It was understood several other parties were interested in stepping in to save the Bulls, but last night Guilfoyle revealed he was now focusing on ABC as the club’s possible saviour.
“The consortium is a groundbreaking model and the only hope for the Bulls’ future,” said Guilfoyle. “No other philanthropist or benefactor has come forward prepared to give £1m to enable the Bulls to survive.
“This consortium has come up with some innovative commercial ideas to make the club viable.
“They want to create a multi-cultural community space with rugby league at its heart. In order to make the necessary and essential improvements to the ground they are in discussions to buy back Odsal stadium from the RFL as part of their bid.”
The Asian consortium has also been welcomed by Gary Tasker, the Bulls’ interim chief executive, who believes it could help bring different cultural groups together in Bradford and become a “flagship for diversity” in rugby league.
“I see the ABC consortium’s bid as a fantastic chance for Bradford to lead the way in showing other cities how diverse communities can be brought together through sport,” said Tasker, who has 30 years’ experience in the game, including 10 working for the RFL.
“A challenge for the RFL is how to break down cultural barriers and promote diversity in the game. Earlier this year the RFL launched its Tackle IT initiative to promote diversity and if this bid is successful, it will become a flagship for diversity in rugby league.”
The consortium are due to meet this morning to discuss the next step in their rescue deal.
Dill Butt, corporate affairs director at Akbar’s, said they hoped to hear from the RFL on the possibility of buying back the Odsal lease.
“We need to see what the RFL stance is,” said Butt, who added they would look at increasing revenue at the club to make it “self-funding” through various commercial projects.
“Any big venture like this has to also be a commercial venture, but the priority is to get the Bulls back on track.”
With several staff returning on an unpaid voluntary basis, including coach Potter, the Bulls are desperate to raise cash in the short-term for day-to-day running costs.
They hope to raise £50,000 today and tomorrow by staging a stock sale of Bulls merchandise at the Odsal shop.
“We need to raise as much money in the short term as possible,” said Tasker.
“This will pay the ongoing costs, such as pitch markings, stationery, coach travel and staff wages etc. to make the business viable in the immediate future.
“We’re sat on £50,000 worth of merchandise and we need to convert that into cash to keep the wheels moving.
“We’re planning a giant sale but, going forward, we’re not going to be a club that asks for something for nothing.
“As ever, we’ll give value for money and we need to convert stock into cash at cost-price or less. We’ll be doing this on Friday and Saturday.”
The Bulls are not in action this weekend due to the Carnegie Challenge Cup semi-finals, but Potter is helping to prepare the playing squad for next Friday night’s trip to league champions Leeds Rhinos at Headingley.