Bulls still waiting for rescue

Gerry Sutcliffe
Gerry Sutcliffe
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No news was bad news for Brendan Guilfoyle, the man brought in to try to save Bradford Bulls.

Guilfoyle, who was appointed as administrator in the latest twist in the Super League club’s financial crisis, has just nine days to avoid putting them into liquidation.

The clock is ticking in his search for a buyer and, 24 hours after his appointment was announced, he is still waiting for a concrete offer.

“I received one unsolicited offer which buoyed me up but the expression of interest was then withdrawn,” he said.

The Bradford directors turned to administration after failing to find the necessary investment to fight a winding-up petition from the HM Revenue & Customs over an unpaid tax bill in excess of £300,000.

With no overdraft facilities, the club are virtually penniless and Guilfoyle has warned he may have to make redundancies.

He has also not ruled out selling the club’s leading players but said yesterday he has yet to receive any offers.

“I’ve not had any approaches from other clubs,” he said. “My preference is to have a buyer alongside to provide a guide to the future. I am not soliciting offers.”

Guilfoyle is also unable to give any assurances that the club will be able to fulfil their next home game against London Broncos on July 8, which falls just outside the deadline for offers, but says preparations are continuing for Friday’s trip to leaders Wigan.

Even if they survive, Bradford face an automatic points deduction, one of the points to emerge from Guilfoyle’s meeting with the Rugby Football League.

Members of Parliament have joined the battle to save the club, who were the big success story in the early days of Super League and reached the Grand Final five years in a row up too 2005.

Local MPs George Galloway and Gerry Sutcliffe are to hold talks with Guilfoyle and the All Party Parliamentary Rugby League Group pledged their support.

Sutcliffe, a former Sports Minister, said “Bradford Bulls is not only a professional rugby league club, it is a focal point for the community and has been since its creation.

“As both a Bulls fan and the club’s MP, I know how people must be feeling about the situation. The backing of colleagues within the Parliamentary Rugby League Group is welcomed.”

Brough is eyeing ‘home’ debut

England coach Steve McNamara has rung the changes for the return game against the Exiles at Huddersfield next Wednesday.

As expected, Castleford’s reigning Man of Steel Rangi Chase has been dropped pending the outcome of an investigation by his club into an alleged breach of discipline and McNamara has also opted to rest Leeds duo Kevin Sinfield and Ryan Hall, plus Wigan’s Sam Tomkins and Sean O’Loughlin from the side that won 18-10 in the opener.

Huddersfield scrum-half Danny Brough is poised to make his England debut on his home ground and McNamara has brought three other uncapped players, Warrington utility man Stefan Ratchford and his former Salford team-mates Matty Smith and Jodie Broughton, into a 19-man squad.

St Helens half-back Jonny Lomax has also earned a recall after playing for England Knights as McNamara experiments.

“The second Exiles game gives me the opportunity to see some of the players that have been part of the elite training squad and the England Knights programme in what should be a physical contest against a very good side,” said McNamara.

“Stefan, Matty and Jodie were excellent for the Knights against Ireland last month and deserve their call-up to the senior squad.

“I’m looking forward to seeing their next phase of development and how they adapt.”

With Jamie Peacock having announced his retirement from the international game, McNamara will name his new captain when he finalises his line-up on Monday, although that player will not necessarily become the long-term successor.

“I have a number of options in respect of the new captain for England and I’m in no hurry to make an announcement,” added McNamara. “I will keep an open mind and assess a number of factors before revealing who will take the team forward as our leader on the field. We have a number of strong candidates in both Super League and from the England players playing in the NRL.”

England squad: C Ablett (Leeds), R Atkins (Warrington), T Briscoe (Hull), D Brough (Huddersfield), J Broughton (Salford), R Burrow (Leeds), G Carvell (Warrington), J Charnley (Wigan), E Crabtree (Huddersfield), L Cudjoe (Huddersfield), G Hock (Wigan), J Jones-Buchanan (Leeds), J Lomax (St Helens), L Mossop (Wigan), S Ratchford (Warrington), J Roby (St Helens), M Smith (Salford), D Tickle (Hull), J Wilkin (St Helens).