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New deadline set as curry boss in bid to rescue Bradford Bulls
A consortium of businessmen will only buy the Bradford Bulls if they can get the lease for Odsal Stadium back from the Rugby Football League and the club retains its Super League licence.
The club’s administration has been pushed back from yesterday until Friday, July 27, subject to the RFL providing funds by the end of tomorrow to pay wages.
Administrator Brendan Guilfoyle said: “We have approached the RFL to ask if they would advance payments to the club to enable us to pay July’s wages for retained staff and players, on Friday.
“They have agreed in principle subject to due diligence. We are very grateful for all their support – they have seconded a finance team to help us respond to all the requests for information.”
Mr Guilfoyle said the extension was because they had serious interest from the consortium.
A Bradford-based consortium of Asian businessmen, known as ABC, has been developing a rescue package to try and save the club from going bust. But they want back the stadium lease that the RFL bought in January for an undisclosed sum.
A stumbling block could be the RFL’s concerns over what would happen to Odsal if they sold the lease, along with fears the Bulls could move to Valley Parade.
The consortium includes the managing director of Akbar’s Restaurant, Shabir Hussain, and a group of local property developers.
Mr Guilfoyle confirmed that the consortium was keen to establish the losses over the next 18 months.
“The prospective purchasers are looking at losses for the next 18 months with their own accountants and advisers in and they want to make sure they have enough money to cover the losses,” he said.
“Buying the club is not an issue, they need to be sure they can stabilise and take the club forward.
“They have met with RFL to hear the process of how the rights are transferred to Super League and they want Odsal back from RFL.
“Any offer I get from the consortium is conditional on the Bulls continuing in Super League and the new Bradford Bulls owners having the stadium again.”
The spokesman for the RFL said that two RFL directors met Mr Guilfoyle yesterday afternoon and would be reporting back to the RFL board this morning.
“There is a pressing need for discussion,” the RFL spokesman added.
On the subject of Odsal, he said: “It depends on what they want to buy it back for. RFL purchased Odsal to ensure its continuing use as a rugby stadium and we need to find out what they will do if they have the stadium back and whether the Bulls will be at Valley Parade.”
Bradford Council has also declared its support for a viable proposition and their chief executive Tony Reeves was at a high-level meeting at Odsal Stadium on Monday night, along with the ABC consortium.
Dill Butt, the corporate affairs director at Akbar’s, said that ABC had met with club management, former Bulls boss Brian Noble, former director Stephen Coulby, interim chief executive Gary Tasker and Mr Guilfoyle on Monday night to thrash out details. Akbar’s Mr Hussain is behind the bid, but he is out of the country until today.
“We want to move fairly quickly,” Mr Butt said.
“Akbar’s have always been keen followers of Bradford Bulls and it has been very much at the heart of the community and the heritage of Bradford.
“We are putting together some sort of rescue package and are still in negotiations but things are looking very positive. We are looking to make an announcement at the end of this week.
“We are pledging our support if everything we are in discussion about proves to be a viable proposition.”
He praised Mr Guilfoyle for bringing together interested groups who “may be able put together a rescue package”.
“He wanted people who have that influence and financial sound background to be able to offer some sort of lease of life,” said Mr Butt.
“I am very confident that, on the proviso that they (the RFL) come forward with what we would like to see, the Bulls have got hope to continue on.”
It is understood that former England rugby league star Ikram Butt (no relation to Dill Butt), was at the meeting on Monday. It is also understood that Mr Noble has said that he would be prepared to volunteer to help ABC with player selection if needed.
Bradford Council leader David Green said that if there was a viable business plan that needed short term Council support, they would look at that.
“We made it clear that, if necessary, we would look at potentially some finance over a period of time and would give it serious consideration and that is going to depend on what the payment periods are,” said Councillor Green.
Championship clubs Halifax, Featherstone and Leigh are ready to make an application to take the Bulls’ place in Super League should the RFL not transfer the franchise to ABC.