The long-running saga surrounding Bradford Bulls appeared to be drawing towards a resolution last night after the club announced that a deal had been struck in principle over its ownership.
Almost seven hours of painstaking talks took place at the Provident Stadium yesterday between owner Omar Khan and the group bidding to take control of his shares, consisting of director Ian Watt and former chairman Mark Moore, along with Rugby Football League bosses and several teams of legal representatives.
The summit meeting – which saw RFL chief operating officer Ralph Rimmer and director of licensing and standards Blake Solly speak to both parties separately – led to the Bulls issuing a statement shortly before 9pm last night which encouraged hopes of a breakthrough.
The statement said: “Bradford Bulls can tonight confirm that an agreement regarding the club’s ownership has, in principle, been reached.
“A meeting between all parties concerned, including current and former directors, along with representatives of the Rugby Football League, was staged at Odsal earlier today.
“And details of its outcome are to be finalised in due course, allowing the Bulls to continue to be directed by Ian Watt and Andrew Calvert.
“Former chairman Mark Moore is to continue to work as part of the club for the benefit of supporters, staff and partners. The club will be making no further comment at this time.”
Bradford restaurant boss Mr Khan has so far refused to transfer his stake in the club, claiming Mr Moore and former director and general manager Ryan Whitcut have not paid him an undisclosed sum for the sale of the business.
Mr Khan is expected to continue his legal action against the two men he agreed to sell the club to in September, after a stand-off over the transfer of his shares led to a Christmas Eve walkout by Mr Moore and directors Andrew Calvert and Mr Watt.
Mr Moore, along with Mr Watt and Mr Calvert – who later joined as investors – say they found “massive holes” in the club’s finances.
Despite Mr Moore stepping down as a director in the wake of Mr Khan’s legal action against him, he remains involved in the running of the club and looks set to form a new ownership team along with Mr Calvert and Mr Watt.
Although no deal has yet been signed to transfer the club’s ownership from Mr Khan, representatives of the Bulls owner said: “We can confirm that positive discussions have taken place.”