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Even Murray in Wimbledon final can’t keep Bradford Bulls supporters away
The Bulls’ interim chief executive had spent the previous few days trying to drag as many people as possible to a match billed as potentially the club’s last-ever in the top flight.
A crowd of 10,132, Odsal’s lowest Super League crowd of the season, witnessed a thumping Bulls victory but Tasker was left with mixed emotions, at least initially.
“I sat there wondering if we’d got the crowd we wanted and if we’d done everything we thought we could,” said Tasker, who worked at the Bulls between 1982 and 2000 and was general manager during the club’s glory years.
“I then turned on Sky television and the first thing I saw was a report from the Castleford game.
“They got a crowd of 5,000 and when I looked at everything else that had gone in the sport I realised that we had got the biggest crowd of the day.”
As you’d expect, the vast majority of people turned out and did over and above what was expected of them. Many gave their services for freeGary Tasker
It also has to be remembered that London bring next to no away fans and the fixture, as Tasker puts it, is the “toughest sell of the season”.
Throw in the fact that Andy Murray was contesting a Wimbledon final on Sunday and the Bulls’ five-figure crowd is to be applauded.
Tasker said: “When I looked a little further, I realised Sunday’s crowd was 3,000 up on the same fixture last season.
“Not only that, but when we looked at the gate receipts, we realised quite a few season-ticket holders had taken the option to pay in.
“We were also up against Andy Murray, so it absolutely proved on the day that over 10,000 people still care about this club, despite everything.
“This is a massive club and I think last Sunday was firm evidence of that.”
The consortium of Bradford-based businessmen looking to buy the club are currently undertaking due diligence as they prepare to make a firm offer to administrator Brendan Guilfoyle.
Tasker said: “There is a two-pronged approach going on here. We need to find investment and enough people need to care. At the moment we can certainly tick the latter box.”
The interim chief executive also paid tribute to the support the club received from a number of suppliers and former employees, many of whom worked on a voluntary basis to ensure Sunday’s match went ahead.
“Last week was obviously very frantic but also a very interesting process because you learn a lot about people,” he said.
“You learn a lot about the people who rallied and the suppliers who rallied, as well as the people and the suppliers who weren’t there when you needed them.
“As you’d expect, the vast majority of people turned out and did over and above what was expected of them. Many gave their services for free.
“The main objective for the week was to get the game on and do everything in a fashion that is so typical of the Bulls.”
Tasker, meanwhile, stressed the club still have a massive fight on their hands to safeguard their future.
The Bulls remain in the hands of administrator Brendan Guilfoyle and work is ongoing behind the scenes to push through a sale to the consortium, which includes backing from restaurant chain Akbars.
Yet Tasker’s work, still in a voluntary role, continues apace and he said the bid to raise cash is ongoing. Thus £50,000 worth of stock is up for grabs at discount prices in the club shop.
Tasker explained: “There’s still a long way to go and there are still suppliers to pay and things to honour.
“We’re sat on £50,000 worth of merchandise and we need to convert that into cash to keep the wheels moving.
“We’re planning a giant sale but, going forward, we’re not going to be a club that asks for something for nothing.
“As ever, we’ll give value for money and we need to convert stock into cash at cost-price or less. We’ll be doing this on Friday and Saturday.”