LOYAL fans are clinging on to hope amid their pain after Bradford Bulls suffered defeat and their first relegation in Super League history.
Despite the inevitable loss fans have vowed to keep up their support for the beleaguered club with many belting out "Bradford 'til I die" as the team trailed behind Huddersfield Giants at yesterday's game.
The final score was 52-26 to the Giants, meaning the city is out of the top flight for the first time since 1974.
Bradford are the second founder members of Super League to be relegated after London Broncos' drop into the Championship was confirmed a week ago.
Roaring fans refused to give up their chants of encouragement and devotion as they watched their team get thrashed at the John Smith's Stadium in Huddersfield - and the end result was being grasped by many as the chance of a new start for the club with the only way being up from now on.
Choruses of "Every little thing's going to be alright" was the reassuring message coming from the fans' standing by their team.
There was a glimmer of possible victory in the first half when three times the Bulls took the lead, but the second half saw them struggle and eventually lose their brave fight to stay in the top league.
The defeat is the culmination of several years of off-field problems for the Bulls, which went into administration for the second time in 18 months in January.
Bradford Council leader Councillor David Green described the loss as a disappointment.
He said: “It is clearly an issue that relates to the morale around the city, but I think that in the current climate, while we have so much positive things going on in the city, it would be a real disappointment to me, as a rugby league fan but also someone who lives in Bradford.
“I hope they will bounce straight back up.”
Former Bulls owner Omar Khan said it was a "sad, sad day for Bradford Bulls."
"I'm gutted, but not surprised. I'm gutted because I spent £1 million of my own money to ensure that we had a winning team that would stay in the Super League," he said.
Bradford South MP Gerry Sutcliffe (Lab), a former director at Bradford Bulls, said: “It is disappointing, but the good news is that there is a team there that can be relegated. It was in danger of going out of existence.
“People need to gather round and support the team now.”
He added: “I think they need to bounce back straight away.”
Bradford East MP David Ward (Lib Dem) said yesterday's defeat was "a tragedy and a shame" and added: "My heart bleeds for the incredible passion of the fans who have stuck with them through thick and thin and I'm sure will keep on doing so."
And he said he believed the way forward for the club was for it to ground share with Bradford City at Valley Parade.
"It's not popular but it's the way forward in terms of economics for the game and funding," he added.
Next season will see a major restructure of the domestic game whereby the Bulls would need to overcome Super League opposition in an end-of-season play-off series in order to win promotion back to the top flight.
A spokesman for supporters trust BullBuilder, which aims is to support the Bulls and in particular the young players at the club, said: "While next season’s structure offers a pathway back to Super League, differences in salary cap between the competing sides will mean that it won’t be possible to buy your way back.
"With the relative cost of young players coupled with salary cap exemptions, the Academy represents our strongest hope of getting the first team back where we want to see it.
"We urge everyone to get behind the effort to return to super league, and to get behind BullBuilder."
Fans were also showing their support for the new management behind the Bulls, Brian Barton, 65, from Odsal who saw his first Bulls match back in 1964 said: "My heart has been broken but at least the club is still surviving. I'm glad Marc Green has taken over."
Paul Jackson, 49, from Leeds added: "Out with the old and in with the new. The only way is up."