Lifelong Bulls fan Kate Hardcastle believes she is putting her reputation on the line after coming on board as a non-executive director.
The award-winning businesswoman, who grew up on the terraces of Odsal and has been hailed as a potential ‘Karren Brady of rugby league’, will devote 20 days of her time over the next 12 months to boost the club’s brand and fanbase.
Hardcastle will perform the role on an unpaid basis as she looks to utilise the marketing expertise which has seen her win over 20 professional awards, including the Outstanding Business Woman in Yorkshire & Humberside.
The 36-year-old, born in Huddersfield but raised in Bradford and owner of Insight with Passion and the charity Dreamgirls, first spoke to the Bulls about helping the club after news of their financial crisis broke last March.
That did not materialise but talks resumed when Omar Khan took control of the club and she has agreed to join the board of directors following a series of fruitful meetings with the Bulls owner and Gerry Sutcliffe.
The married mother of one, who cites the late Body Shop founder Anita Roddick as her inspiration, said: “I first came here as a two-year-old with my dad and I feel very strongly about the club.
“However, I’ve got to take away the emotion of it all because this is business and results need to be delivered.
“It’s the biggest risk I’ve ever taken with my profile.
“Everything in my career I’ve worked very hard for and built up, so to make this announcement and commitment is quite a risk.
“But it’s a risk I’m taking with confidence.”
Hardcastle will have three primary objectives during her time at the club, focusing on brand, families and increasing the role of women in the sport.
“I’m going to look at the Bulls’ brand because I believe there is a lot of untapped potential there,” said Hardcastle, who featured on Newsnight on Tuesday and was yesterday named the Tesco Mum of the Year 2013.
“The second thing I’ll be looking at is the club’s family reach. How can we make it more than just about being here on match-days?
“How can we expand the club and increase the revenue opportunities?
“I first came here when I was two and it has stayed in my heart forever. We need to bring the next generation of loyalty through.
“There is a lot of talk about women in sport right now, so we have to make sure rugby league is a part of that.”
Hardcastle has crossed paths with Brady in her line of work and believes she could eventually make a similar impact to the West Ham vice-chairman, albeit in a different sport.
Hardcastle said: “Could I be a role model for women in rugby league? I sincerely hope so.
“I have travelled the world and have lived in China, Hong Kong and Australia.
“I’ve been in some pretty big glass boardrooms dealing with billions of pounds, so I can certainly walk in here with my head held high.”
Bulls owner Khan said he was “very proud” to have Hardcastle on board.
“She’s a great talent and I think she’s going to make a big impression and a lot of changes here,” he added.
“We’re very lucky to have her. Kate has been a Bulls fans since she was a toddler and I think she’s ten times better looking than the rest of the board!
“She’s well-connected in the business community and her marketing background is second to none.
“There are a couple of other people we’re also thinking of getting on board as non-exec directors.”
Bulls coach Francis Cummins, at 36 the same age as Hardcastle, will call on the services of Brett Kearney and possibly also Jamie Langley and James Donaldson in Danny McGuire’s testimonial on Sunday.
“I’ve not met Kate yet but it just shows that lots of different points of view will make things happen here,” he said.
“An old-fashioned view of ‘this is how we do it’ isn’t going to work.
“You need different viewpoints and there is definitely a great feeling about the place.
“It’s fresh and I’m sure there will be more great ideas to come.”