AS the Championship comes into increasingly sharp focus for the Bulls, efforts to assemble a squad for 2015 are gathering pace.
Managing director Steve Ferres is largely responsible for overseeing recruitment to Jimmy Lowes’ squad and is a busy man right now.
He is meeting agents and watching DVDs of potential new recruits as well as attempting to secure the services of existing players.
It is a mountainous task as the Bulls plan for next season when, if they do go down, they will look to bounce back at the first attempt.
“Some players will want to stay if we go down and some won’t, so it’s a tough ask,” said Ferres.
“Other teams in the Championship have got a head start on us because they have their players in place and Leigh have been preparing for this day for two years, so there is a dearth of players.
“However, we have quietly been looking at what is available and believe we’ll be in a position to put together what we think is a competitive side challenging to get back into Super League.
“We’re hopeful that we will soon start making announcements about players being retained and new players being added to the squad.
“We are starting to recruit and are actively looking at all options, both in the UK and overseas.”
Luke Gale will ply his trade at Castleford next season and several other players seem certain to depart, especially the higher earners.
Ferres said: “These boys have bought houses and have bills to pay and nobody wants to take a reduction in pay, so it becomes a very difficult and emotive time. But we have players who obviously we won’t be able to afford to keep.”
Nevertheless, the salary cap in the Championship next year is £1million and the Bulls will receive £780,000 in central distribution.
That is more than the £600,000 it has received this season and last after agreeing to forgo half of their £1.2million for two years when Omar Khan bought the club out of administration in September 2012.
Ferres added optimistically: “There are still people who will come to Bradford Bulls and hopefully the brand is still strong.
“That, coupled with the facilities at Tong and the work ethic that Jimmy will bring, is going to make us an attractive proposition.”
Attracting players to Odsal this season, however, has proved difficult.
Ferres said upon his appointment in March that he would seek to replace Jarrod Sammut, Garreth Carvell and Nick Scruton.
Jamal Fakir was the only permanent signing but Ferres said: “We still brought in Fakir, Jay Pitts and Joe Arundel for the rest of the season, plus we had Antonio Kaufusi for a few games and tried everything to get him to stay.
“That highlighted the problem of trying to get quality players to the club – they just weren’t available.
“It became evident that clubs were very reluctant to let players go and we tried to get Leon Pryce back.
“He probably would have come back had we retained Super League status.
“To get him out of his contract, as we tried to do, was always going to be a difficult task.
“We will now do our utmost to keep the players that Jimmy feels will do a job as well as signing players who buy into what we’re trying to achieve.”
Ferres said the Bulls hoped to attract 4,000 supporters to Odsal on a regular basis next season.
He added: “That would make the business model stack up but the loyal supporters also need to play their part.
“That is going to be the ethos going forward.”