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Bradford Bulls fight to play Saints on Friday night
The Bulls are battling with the Rugby Football League over their home game with St Helens and claim they could lose up to £100,000 if it is not switched to Friday, February 22.
The Super League round four clash was scheduled for Sunday, February 24 but the Bulls have moved quickly to rearrange the fixture after City progressed to the Capital One Cup final at Wembley on the same day.
They want the Saints match to be played two days earlier in order to allow for Bulls fans who wish to spend the weekend in London to attend the game.
But the RFL have turned down their request because of the World Club Challenge match between Leeds and Melbourne taking place at Headingley on the same night.
The game’s governing body say they wish to protect the integrity of the showpiece clash and are keen for no other fixtures to be played that evening.
The Bulls have appealed against the ruling, insisting they could lose up to £100,000 in gate receipts if the game is played on the Saturday, and say that St Helens are happy to play on the Friday.
Their appeal will be heard by the RFL’s independent board of directors at a board meeting on Wednesday.
Super League matches have been played on the same day as the World Club Challenge previously.
But Blake Solly, the RFL’s director of standards and licensing, said: “The Super League clubs and the RFL agreed ten years ago that the World Club Challenge was one of the most important fixtures in the season schedule.
“Wherever possible, the integrity of the fixture needs to be protected and it needs its own place in the schedule.
“Having a Super League fixture on the same night as the World Club Challenge detracts from everything to do with the fixture – interest in the game, television audience and the attendance of the match.
“We’ve worked very hard over a long period of time to build the World Club Challenge up to the event it is now.
“We don’t want to risk that and have given the Bulls a choice of kick-off times on the Saturday.”
The Bulls say they will provide the RFL with figures this week that show that playing on the Saturday will have a significant detrimental impact on the attendance of the game.
Bulls co-chairman Gerry Sutcliffe said: “We understand the significance of the World Club Challenge but these are exceptional circumstances.
“If we’ve got agreements between ourselves and St Helens, then surely we should be allowed to do it, particularly as we are a club under new ownership who have had to give up some of our income from central funding.
“There have been precedents before surrounding this fixture and we need a decision pretty quickly so we can start planning.”