Sutcliffe expects ‘no problems’ as RFL poised to rule over Bradford Bulls’ Super League status (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Gerry Sutcliffe expects ‘no problems’ as RFL poised to rule over Bradford Bulls’ Super League status
Gerry Sutcliffe is confident the Bulls will be granted a full Super League licence within the next fortnight as they look to start planning for next season.
Last September the club were awarded a one-year probationary licence to stay in the top flight for the 2013 campaign.
But owner Omar Khan and co-chairman Sutcliffe are now keen for the RFL to rubber-stamp the club’s future until the end of 2014 – when the current round of Super League licences expire.
The safeguarding of the club’s top-flight future for at least another year would allow the Bulls to begin planning for next season on and off the field.
Bradford South MP Sutcliffe said: “The indications the RFL are giving us is that they’re happy with our progress and we don’t expect there to be any problems.
“We certainly can’t take anything for granted but we don’t want to be in a position like the club were in last year when we’re trying to negotiate with players but cannot give them guarantees about our Super League status.
“We’re currently having positive discussions with the RFL about next year so we can start to move forward quickly.”
The game’s governing body have monitored the Bulls’ progress closely since Khan rescued the club six months ago.
Red Hall chief executive Nigel Wood declared himself “excited” with the club’s new ownership in January.
Sutcliffe admitted there had been a number of minor hitches behind the scenes, notably a delay in replica shirts being made available to supporters and a disappointing return on season-ticket sales.
The Bulls sold 6,458 season tickets and home attendances this term are averaging just over 8,500 after four games.
Sutcliffe said: “It was known that we had a problem with the shirt manufacturers because they didn’t get the shirts to us in the time that we wanted.
“That meant there was less income than there should have been and, in terms of season tickets, we didn’t get to where we wanted to be. But I think that will come in time because people see the team doing well on the pitch and will start to come.
“You also have to look at the economic conditions in the country right now. There isn’t a lot of money around and people are finding it hard.
“We always said it would take two years to turn the club around and I think Omar has to be congratulated for the personal investment he has made in the club.
“We knew it would be a rocky road but we’re confident that we’re bringing in the finances needed to move the Bulls forward.”
In November, the Bulls secured a four-year £1.2 million sponsorship deal with the city's Provident Financial Group, which was hailed as the biggest in Super League history.
It was also recently announced that fans will be able to buy shares in the club and that local businesswoman Jay Willey is ready to pump a six-figure fee into the Bulls in exchange for a shareholding.
Sutcliffe said: “It’s swings and roundabouts but the forecast for 2014 paints a good picture and another positive is that we have saved on expenditure that we thought we may have to pay out.”
Sutcliffe, meanwhile, has been in talks with government officials in Qatar about how to replicate the success of its world-class Aspire sports facility.
The former Sports Minister has twice visited Qatar for talks and added: “I’m hoping to go back out there to seal the deal.”