Consortium set for Bradford bid but Odsal’s future is key to sale

ADMINISTRATOR Brendan Guilfoyle expects to finally receive a bid for Bradford Bulls today as the first step is made towards bringing the crisis-torn club back from the brink.

A consortium of Asian businessmen, self-titled ABC and led by Akbar’s restaurant tycoon Shabir Hussain, have been locked in talks with him and the Rugby Football League for more than a week.

They had been expected to make their move on Monday but there was still no firm bid last night.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

However, Guilfoyle revealed they are in a position to show their hand and said: “I’m expecting an offer tomorrow (Wednesday) from the ABC consortium.

“Whether it is acceptable to me and the RFL remains to be seen but they seem intent on buying the club and I’m hopeful.

“There’s no reason why they shouldn’t make the offer but I expect it will be conditional on allowing Bradford Bulls to continue in Super League with the franchise transferred to a new company.

“They also want to buy back Odsal and operate out of there.

“I’ve indicated what amount their offer should be and they say they can write a cheque to buy the club tomorrow.

“But they’ve obviously had to look at what it will cost to take it forward as well with the club’s losses.

“I look at Gary Hetherington, though, when he took over Leeds when they were in heavy debt.

“They’re profitable now and seeing what’s happened there proves it can be done.”

Guilfoyle has previously said four-time Super League champions Bradford, who went into administration last month due to the threat of an unpaid tax bill and inability to pay wages and running costs, could be purchased for as little as £750,000.

It will be interesting to see what the RFL – who bought the Odsal lease for £1.25m in January to help the club pay off debts – will make of the bid.

They are obviously keen to help find new owners for the West Yorkshire outfit but not at all costs.

It is understood the governing body will want to see clear evidence any bidders will have long-term plans for the football aspect of the business and will be meticulous in their appraisal of any offer with regards not only the interests of Bradford Bulls but, perhaps more importantly, the best interests of the sport as a whole.

Unless the price is right, the sale back of the Odsal lease could also be a stumbling block and – given the other 13 clubs have a say – the RFL themselves cannot actually promise Bradford will have a licence for 2013.

They may yet need to reapply in a mini-round of licensing with the likes of Championship clubs Featherstone Rovers, Halifax and Leigh.

The RFL, who have made cash advancements of television money to help pay players’ wages ahead of the July 27 deadline for finding a buyer, has promised the club will be able to complete this season’s fixtures with their next game at Leeds Rhinos on Friday night.

Bulls head coach Mick Potter, one of 15 employees Guilfoyle made redundant a fortnight ago, returned on a voluntary basis to help the squad prepare for last weekend’s win over London Broncos.

He has met a member of the ABC consortium and admits being impressed with what was discussed.

“Things looked positive,” he said. “I spoke only about football and not the whole business.

“I don’t know where they’re at or whether they’re going to make an offer. I just put my point of view forward from the football department.

“The guy was very positive and I was happy I had the meeting. I feel more comfortable but I think there’s a few hurdles to be jumped yet.

“When someone invites you to a meeting you feel wanted and I did feel better about things afterwards.”

The Australian – who says he can only afford to work for free until the end of the month – says he has spoken to people back home in the NRL but there are no obvious job openings for him there in 2013.

Potter admits the same is true of Super League opportunities although London Broncos last night sacked Rob Powell which could offer him a way of staying in England.

Former Broncos coach and chief executive Tony Rea has returned from Australia to take the club’s last seven games of the year but they are advertising for a new head coach.

Meanwhile, the RFL board of directors are meeting on Friday when they are expected to decide on Bradford’s points deduction for breaking insolvency rules.

The maximum is six but both Wakefield Trinity Wildcats and Crusaders last year received four-point losses after their new owners agreed to pay back some creditors from their respective administrations.

Bradford, who are aiming for a fourth successive win, have been bolstered by the return from long-term injury of Hull FC target Jason Crookes and Wales winger Elliot Kear for the trip to Headingley.

Jarrod Sammut is also available after missing the London victory but John Bateman is absent as he leads England Academy as they set off for their Australia tour tomorrow.