RFL say Bradford’s new owners offer ‘an exciting and stable future’

Bradford fans look on during a game at Odsal.
Bradford fans look on during a game at Odsal.
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New owners have been secured for Bradford, the Rugby Football League have announced.

The governing body have reached agreement with a consortium that will see a new club formed to take the place of the old, defunct Bradford for the start of the Kingstone Press Championship season on February 5.

However, the identity of the new owners will not be known until a press conference is held early next week.

That means another weekend of uncertainty for coaches and those players remaining from the old club, who have been largely kept in the dark over events since meeting one of the bidders a little more than a week ago.

A statement read: “The RFL is pleased to announce that an agreement has been reached with a consortium to create a new professional rugby league club in Bradford.

“Following a thorough review and consultation with potential owners throughout the week, the RFL board approved a decision to offer membership of the League to a consortium that it believes offers an exciting and stable future for rugby league in Bradford. As previously communicated, the new club will begin the 2017 season in the Kingstone Press Championship on minus 12 points.

“The owners will arrive at Odsal early next week and will at that point speak with former players, staff and relevant stakeholders before holding a press conference to reveal their identity and outline their vision for the future.”

The old Bradford Bulls were liquidated 11 days ago after administrators failed to find a buyer – but the RFL fielded four serious bids after seeking offers to resurrect the club and have now come up with a preferred option.

Two limited companies have already been established to run the new club, both by New Zealand-born businessmen. Last week, it emerged that a company was registered by former Wasps owner David Thorne in the name of “Bradford Bulls Capital Limited” and on Friday “Bradford Bulls 2017 Limited” was registered at Companies House by Andrew Chalmers, a former chairman of the New Zealand Rugby League.

Chalmers was involved in Marwan Koukash’s successful takeover of Salford four years ago and remains a director of the Red Devils.

His bid to bring the club out of administration before Christmas was accepted by the RFL, but rejected by the administrators, who claimed the offer was insufficient.

Former Wigan and New Zealand coach Graham Lowe is believed to be involved with Chalmers, who is seen as the clear favourite to form a new club.