Bradford Bulls have lurched into yet another crisis with new owners saying they are in “survival mode” for 2014 when they must find £400,000 to avoid plunging back into administration.
It is the last thing supporters wanted to hear after 18 months of financial worries, but they are now bracing themselves for the departure of top players as the desperate West Yorkshire club look to balance the books.
Their new board of directors – which took control six weeks ago from previous owner Omar Khan – insist they are not on the brink, but finances are worse than they were led to believe.
Among the alarming discoveries chairman Mark Moore and fellow directors Andrew Calvert and Ian Watt have made are loans taken out against the club and that concerts staged last year actually ran at a financial loss, estimated to be in the region of £100,000.
Staff redundancies are “likely” and, though Francis Cummins’s squad has largely been “ring-fenced”, players have been told if they can secure moves the club will not stand in their way.
Bradford went into administration in June 2012 with debts thought to be around £1.5m, but were saved by local businessman Khan and MP Gerry Sutcliffe three months later.
They have since departed, however, and a statement read: “The last administrative team struggled to understand the full impact of running this club and stepped away from the business with large outstanding debts, which the Bulls are now recovering from.
“Areas of the business have been allowed to dangerously overspend and this is now going to have an obvious impact on the club.
“Season-ticket sales are vastly down on forecasted projections and, like last season, the club will again receive half of its allocated central funding due to the agreement made between the Super League and the former board at the time of initial purchase. As a club we are left with no choice but to make difficult decisions in a bid to streamline the business.
“Our incomings simply do not match our current outgoings, so over the next few days we have to make tough decisions on every business unit in the club.
“The goal for next year is to survive, compete and win back the trust of supporters and previous sponsors, while looking forward to receiving our full allocation of central funding ahead of 2015.”
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Sheffield Eagles have signed USA World Cup centre Lelauloto Tagaloa, 26, on a two-year deal.
Featherstone Rovers’ Bradley Knowles-Tagg has been banned for eight matches after racially abusing a Salford City Reds player in an Under-20s game in June.
He has since left the club.