INTERIM Rugby Football League chief executive Ralph Rimmer feels “lessons have been learned” after their costly legal battle with Bradford Bulls employees – and the governing body may not get involved as heavily with struggling clubs in the future.
Various parties, including the RFL and Bradford Bulls 2017 Limited, reached an agreement with Bradford Bulls Northern Limited players and staff last week that brought employment tribunal proceedings to an end.
Claims totalling more than £1m were originally being sought by 45 individuals including former players such as Adam Sidlow, Adam O’Brien and Alex Foster as well as ex-coach Rohan Smith.
It centred on issues such as redundancy, unpaid wages and holiday pay before the club were put into liquidation last January and eventually replaced by the new club recently relegated to League 1.
At the time, the RFL refuted any claims against them, but after lengthy talks the matter was resolved out of court.
Former World Club champions Bulls, of course, had been in administration three times between 2012 and 2016.
Last year, the governing body analysed bids from different consortia to create the new Bradford club before deciding to award RFL membership to Andrew Chalmers, the Kiwi who is now in charge at Odsal.
In light of recent events, though, Rimmer, who was RFL’s chief operating officer at the time, told The Yorkshire Post: “I do think there will be some implications in the way we look at things in the future.
“Everything that the RFL did there was for the right reasons.
“I think it means probably –probably – the RFL will be less likely to become involved in times of crisis going forward.
“But everything the RFL did was very sincere. In the end they (legal teams) found an outcome that suited everyone.”
Asked if the RFL may take a step back from having a major say in who takes over a troubled club once it is in the hands of an administrator, Rimmer added: “Yes, possibly.
“It is something that we’ve always had. We have been around the cycle on a few occasions.
“When you get into a situation like that, the administrator has their own duties – basically to find the best commercial outcome for all the creditors – and people put their offer to the administrator on that basis.
“Whenever there’s an administration, historically, the share from the membership comes in and the RFL can regrant that to whoever it sees fit. And the RFL would generally take the best option for the sport. That’s what it’s always intended to do.
“It’s never comfortable and it’s never been comfortable. But in the end the RFL, as always, will look to find the right solution for the sport. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. (But) I think there’ll be some lessons learned from this.”
Rimmer, of course, has taken over on an interim basis after long-serving Nigel Wood stood down earlier this month. He announced this week that he would like to be considered for the role on a permanent basis.
Asked why he felt he would be the right man to take the RFL forward, Rimmer said: “Others will decide that, of course, but certainly I want to do it.
“I’ve been involved in the game all my life. I’ve played in the junior ranks, played right through to open age, touched on professional, student international and I’ve worked in the game professionally at every level for about 27 years.
“You may well count all that against me, but I understand the game, I’m very passionate about the game and I have plenty of energy.
“There’s only one thing I ever want the game to do – and that’s to grow.”