Timeline to disaster: Good news turns to bad news in a flash for Bradford Bulls, who find themselves back to square one (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Timeline to disaster: Good news turns to bad news in a flash for Bradford Bulls, who find themselves back to square one
Adam O’Brien scored the key try in the victory over Wakefield which gave fans something to smile about – but these were wiped from their faces just five days later
The players’ lounge at Wakefield last Thursday: Francis Cummins’ men are all smiles after a priceless victory.
Mark Moore, Andrew Calvert and Ian Watt congratulate the team on their success.
High fives, backslaps and handshakes are the order of the day.
Bonhomie is everywhere.
Directors, players and staff bask in a collective glow.
Moore, Calvert and Watt, resplendent in Bradford Bulls club ties, have extra reason to celebrate.
It is revealed their bid to buy the club from administrator David Wilson has been accepted.
News quickly spreads.
Richard Lamb, having very publicly stated his desire to seize control, concedes defeat.
“Great result tonight. Sadly I have not been appointed by administrators to run your club,” he tells fans via Twitter.
The next chapter in the tumultuous recent history of Bradford Bulls is about to begin.
It feels like a seminal moment.
Five days on, and shortly after a six-point penalty for entering administration has been imposed, Bradford Bulls 2014 Ltd officially withdraws its offer to buy the club.
Moore launches an astonishing attack on the RFL.
In a 982-word diatribe, he claims the six-point penalty for entering administration and intention to put the club into special measures has made relegation a certainty.
He says the governing body had failed to follow “proper protocol” over the meetings they chaired to oversee a change in ownership from Omar Khan to the current board.
Ralph Rimmer’s response is no less uncompromising.
The RFL’s chief operating officer calls the latest crisis “entirely of the club’s own making” and lays the blame at the door of Moore and Ryan Whitcut, who agreed to pay Khan £300,000 for the Bulls last September.
Perhaps even more damning was Rimmer’s assertion that Moore, Calvert and Watt never proved willing or able to put any real money into the club or pay off creditors.
There can be no denying that Calvert and Watt in particular are passionate fans who followed Bradford Northern on the terraces before supporting the club as sponsors.
BedzRus owner Moore, an Arsenal-supporting Londoner by heritage, was at the forefront of the trio’s attempts to seize control of the club, albeit with the odd PR disaster, such as posting a story on the Bulls’ official website claiming there would be no points deduction.
It should be noted, however, that it was debenture holder Marc Green who put the club into administration on January 31 after a winding-up order from HMRC following an unpaid tax bill.
Yet for all the directors’ undoubted hard work and commitment behind the scenes in the past few months, they never had the funds required to take the club forward.
It is a sad and sorry state of affairs which, significantly, RFL chief executive Nigel Wood has steered clear of from the start, instead leaving Rimmer and Blake Solly to deal with.
There has been much anger directed at the governing body this week for the way they have handled the club in recent times.
From buying the lease on Odsal to recoup their loan to the Bulls, from giving the club only half their central monies for two years and divvying up the cash between their rivals and from declaring their intention to put the Bulls into special measures should Bradford Bulls 2014 take the club on.
Conspiracy theories abound.
This week’s fall-out begs the question: why did the RFL appear to be guiding the club into the hands of Moore, Calvert and Watt if, as Rimmer suggests, they never had any confidence in them?
In truth there were precious few credible alternatives and certainly no sign of the sugar daddy that Bradford so desperately craves.
Meanwhile, the mud-slinging, not to mention possible legal battles, look set to continue.
Against that backdrop, Cummins and his players fight desperately to keep a famous rugby league institution in the top flight.
The most pressing challenge now is to find a buyer with the financial wherewithal and the nous to support that objective – and fast.