Former World Club champions Bradford Bulls are in administration for a third time in just five years.
Chairman Marc Green played down fears as recently as August that they were heading in that direction again but today the club confirmed it has entered administration due to an ongoing issue with HM Revenue and Customs.
They were hit with a winding-up petition following a claim for monies owed by HMRC in July and that remains unresolved.
In a statement on the club website, Green said: “I have been talking to a number of serious investors and purely the pressure from HMRC has forced the club to be put into this position to save its future.
“There is a dispute between ourselves and HMRC which we have been working hard to resolve since the winding up petition was issued and despite two adjournments from the courts to resolve this matter we have been unable to do so.
“We were concerned over the ability to secure a third adjournment and therefore this action became unavoidable to protect the club.”
Green added: “I will be working closely with the Administrators over the coming weeks and it is my intention to regain this club from them within the shortest practicable time frame.
“Regardless of whether I remain at the helm of this great club, I will ensure all memberships already purchased for next season will remain valid, as will the offer under which they were purchased.
“I believe the future of Bradford Bulls is still strong.”
Green bought the club out of administration in 2014 with Bradford also suffering the same fate two years earlier.
After a costly relegation, they have been stuck in the Championship for the last two seasons and, crucially, failed to reach the money-spinning Qualifiers this year.
Managing director Steve Ferres subsequently resigned while chief executive Robbie Hunter-Paul also left the troubled club.
If they do emerge in readiness for next season, Bradford could be hit with a six-point penalty deduction at the start of their 2017 campaign, which would seriously hamper their chances of making the top-four again.
An RFL spokesperson said: “We have been communicating closely with Bradford Bulls and we are aware of the decision to place the club into administration.
“It is undoubtedly a painful and uncertain time for supporters, players and employees.
“In these circumstances the RFL will always seek to support a club in difficulty for the sake of those directly affected and also on behalf of the Chairmen and Boards of well-managed clubs who deserve stability.
“Any decision regarding membership of the RFL and possible sporting sanctions will be made in due course and are at the discretion of the RFL Board.”
Gary Pettit and Gavin Bates, directors of PBC Business Recovery and Insolvency, have been appointed joint-administrators.
“A club like Bradford Bulls serves the local community and we will be working towards finding a solution that preserves the future of the club while also meeting the requirements of the Rugby Football League with whom we have already opened a dialogue,” said Pettit.
“I appreciate the club has been in this position twice before in recent years and in my own view ensuring it does not occur again will be paramount.”