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SBD Global/August 2, 2012/Franchises

Rugby Club Bradford Bulls Remain In Limbo After RFL Rejects Consortium's Second Offer

The prospect of Bradford Bulls staying in the Super League beyond the end of the season receded when the Rugby Football League rejected a second offer from one of the consortiums that "has expressed an interest in taking the club out of administration," according to Andy Wilson of the London GUARDIAN. Club Chair Stephen Coulby had urged the league to give the ABC consortium an answer and blamed the game's governing body for the uncertainty that is "only assisting and accelerating ... the lingering death of the club." The league's Compliance Officer Blake Solly responded to that request within hours, but not in the manner that Coulby and others backing the ABC bid would have wanted. Solly made clear for the first time that "the ABC offer is unacceptable not only because it is conditional on the Bulls retaining their Super League status, and the consortium being able to buy back the lease on Odsal" that was sold to the RFL last winter, but also because ABC "has yet to provide a detailed business plan, proof of funding, or even the identity of its shareholders and directors" (GUARDIAN, 8/1).

UNCERTAIN TIMES: The BBC reported Solly reiterated that "any offer for the club would have to be unconditional and cast doubt on the details of the bids placed for the club so far." Solly said, "The position with Bradford Bulls is identical to that faced by Widnes Vikings and Wakefield Trinity Wildcats, who were taken out of administration in 2007 and 2011, respectively, by new owners without any guarantee as to which competition they would be playing in." He added: "All enquirers have been informed that the RFL is only interested in receiving offers for Bradford Bulls which are free from any condition pertaining to competition membership or the reacquisition of Odsal Stadium" (BBC, 8/1). The PA reported that Coulby "has called on the RFL to break the impasse that is threatening the future of the financially-stricken Super League club." Coulby said, "The ABC consortium have been trying for over three weeks now to satisfy the supposed demands of the RFL without knowing exactly what those demands are and the second syndicate, which has now put up a bid in place, is faced with the same problem." Coulby also said that the ABC consortium "would drop its bid for the club if Bradford were to be placed in the second-tier Championship or even Championship One," which something of a pioneering league in '13 with the admission of Hemel Stags, Northampton and the University of Gloucestershire. He added: "If the club is at best to be a Championship club for a period of at least two years please let any prospective purchasers know this, so that they can decide whether to proceed with their interest and plan accordingly" (PA, 8/1).
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