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RFL warn Bradford Bulls to get a move on
The Rugby Football League have urged the Bulls to act swiftly and provide them with the information required to ratify the club’s change of ownership and safeguard their place in Super League.
It was announced on September 25 that Omar Khan had relinquished control of the Bulls and left with immediate effect along with Gerry Sutcliffe and Vipin Joshi.
Ryan Whitcut, the club’s general manager, and local businessman Mark Moore were subsequently named as the new owners before Ian Watt came on board last week.
But RFL director of standards and licensing Blake Solly said that the credentials of Whitcut, Moore and Watt would be closely scrutinised along with their business plan, cash-flow forecasts and proof of funding.
All three will be subjected to the RFL’s fit and proper persons test, which examines the business background of each individual during the past ten years.
In the meantime, the Bulls have spent the past month in ‘special measures’, which means they cannot make any signings while the club’s future effectively remains in the air.
Solly told the T&A: “The RFL board of directors need to have confidence in the management of Bradford and that’s why we want to see their business plan, financial forecasts and proof of funding in order to approve the club’s change of ownership.
“We’ve been pretty clear all the way through, saying that the club needs to provide that information to us before we can sanction the change of control and remove the Bulls from special measures.
“We’ve been in communication with Ryan and Mark for around three weeks now and expect to have the final version of their business plan and financial forecasts by Thursday.
“We would then expect a decision to be made either way in the next seven to 14 days because the competition and the club want the certainty of Bradford being in Super League next year.”
Solly said that at least four Championship clubs – Featherstone, Halifax, Sheffield and Leigh – would be willing to replace the Bulls in Super League should the unthinkable happen and the RFL refused to ratify the change of ownership.
Asked what might happen in that situation, Solly said: “It’s too early to speculate but we would probably have to look at an alternative consortium to own the club.
“There are people who have been in touch and told us to contact them if things don’t go to plan.
“At the moment we haven’t responded to that because we want to give Ryan, Mark and their team every opportunity to ensure the change of control is approved.”
Moore, who expects further new investors to be announced shortly, said: “Over the past few weeks we have been developing a business plan under our new administration.
“As with all Super League clubs, getting the information in place that the governing body needs is a process of careful planning and gathering of specific details as requested.
“This is an ongoing process and, while putting the correct information in place, we have also taken advice from incoming investors, which strengthens the project.
“All new board members will be available on Thursday for the new administration’s first official board meeting, at which we will be able to sign off our business plan, financial forecasts and proof of funding.
“The RFL will be given this information following the board meeting and we have arranged for the whole board to meet with Blake Solly next Tuesday.”
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