Bulls fear fund-raising is tailing off

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Concerned Bradford Bulls chairman Peter Hood fears the bid to raise a club-saving £500,000 is slowing down and is disappointed at the response to their plight from some of the city’s businesses.

The troubled Super League club need to reach that major target before the weekend to avoid going out of business.

The Bulls’ “Quest for Survival” was launched last Tuesday when fans were urged to pledge £100 each.

Within 36 hours, the club had broken the £100,000 barrier following an outpouring of generosity from fans across the sport.

However, Hood reported yesterday afternoon that the sum had since reached only £242,000 and he conceded his worry that momentum was waning.

“I’d no idea what to expect when we started but you can work out from the maths the way it has slowed down a bit from the way it kicked off pretty strongly last week,” he said.

“So, our task at the moment is to try and re-energise the pledge and really try and get peoples’ attention back on to it.”

Hood admitted he had not received the backing he had hoped for from Bradford’s business community but understands the position given the current state of the economy.

“I might have been a bit disappointed because I certainly felt motivated to get them on board,” he said. “There have been a few, and perhaps a handful into four figures, so it’s very worthwhile.

“But when you think of the Bradford district and the sheer number of SME (small and medium enterprise) companies it just seemed to me that this was something that community could potentially do for another SME – and, not only that, but another SME which is pretty good for promoting Bradford in a positive way regionally, nationally and internationally.”

There are also some significant big players in the area with supermarket chain Morrisons based in Bradford along with motor group JCT600 but there still remains no significant new investment to augment their battle.

The Bulls are hoping for a massive gate at Good Friday’s Odsal game against champions Leeds Rhinos to bolster their push.

Hood revealed a decision on the club’s future would be taken the following morning when the gate receipts and matchday revenues are added to the pledge total.

When asked if they could continue if they secured £400,000, the chairman replied: “The parallel might be selling your house – there’s a price you’d definitely accept, a price you definitely wouldn’t and one which you’d have to think about and that figure (£400,000) is verging into that (latter) area.”

However, Hood is keen to make sure pledges are not wasted if the worst situation arises and a potential administration is looming around the corner.

“One of the big issues for us is we don’t want to take £100 off the man on the street simply to see that £100 drop down a big black hole,” he continued.

“We’ve got to be certain that if we’re going to take money via these pledges that the quantum is sufficient to put us in a position where we can address these very short-term issues.

“We don’t want to be taking money for it to not achieve the objective.”

Bradford, who owe the tax man and have a bank overdraft to pay off in the immediate future, have said they will require £1m in total further down the line to continue.

However, Hood would not be drawn on what the deadline is for finding that second £500,000, saying: “Let’s get to the first one first and see what exactly we’re dealing with. It’s too far out to give a detailed answer.”

There have been around 1,700 pledges so far and Hood is urging anyone who perhaps is holding fire to pick up the phone soon.

“When you relate that number (1,700) to our membership – season tickets – it’s not a huge percentage,” he said.

“It might be that some people are waiting and seeing what happens but we need to encourage those to jump on board now. They need to actually commit.”

Widnes owner Steve O’Connor, who has already pledged £10,000 of his own money, yesterday handed over an allocation of 600 away tickets for Bradford to sell to their fans ahead of Easter Monday’s game at his club.

“We normally only get 10 per cent commission on the sale of such tickets but this now is potentially worth another £10,000 to the Bradford club,” said Hood.

“It’s another incredibly generous act by Steve O’Connor and Widnes and I urge fans to buy them.

“There’s some good news in there and I’m realistic at the moment; we’re working hard, pushing it hard and might get close to that 500,000 number if we keep focused.

“But it’s a bit like a middle distance race – you’ve got to keep the pace going and keep pushing.”

There is still no sign of anyone expressing an interest in a complete takeover but, as the Bradford board currently only owns 25 per cent of the shares, it is not the simplest of tasks securing a controlling interest.

Meanwhile, young back-row John Bateman will miss both the Leeds and Widnes games after last night pleading guilty to a dangerous tackle.

He was handed a two-game ban by the RFL disciplinary panel and fined £300.