RFL’s unconditional stance on sale of Bradford Bulls comes in for unwarranted stick (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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RFL’s unconditional stance on sale of Bradford Bulls comes in for unwarranted stick
The Bradford Bulls saga is approaching critical status.
We can only hope this week’s final-hour unconditional offer to purchase the club from Super League (Europe) Ltd is approved and will mean the club can celebrate survival. In the days before this innovative rescue package was tabled, the RFL were being portrayed as the bad guys after turning down a second offer from the ABC consortium, one of two prospective buyers.
The rival group, fronted by Bradford South MP Gerry Sutcliffe, has been similarly frustrated.
The game’s governing body have been getting stick for refusing to guarantee the Bulls will remain in Super League.
Those trying to buy – and save – the ailing club argue that it cannot be done if a place at the top level is not rubber-stamped.
But the RFL argue that they will not be tied down by conditions. Anyone wanting to take over the club has to do it under their rules.
And as hard as it must be for fans to stomach, you have to agree with the authority’s harsh stance.
If they bend the rules for one club, even one as historied as the Bulls, then what will happen with the next to fall into the financial abyss. And sadly, with the way of the sporting world right now, there will be more.
The RFL see no difference in the plight of the Bulls to that of Widnes and Wakefield in recent years. They were both rescued without their Super League status assured – and in the case of the Vikings it took a long while to claw their way back.
Rugby league’s “closed shop” approach regarding promotion to Super League is a major obstacle. Unlike football, one season outside of the big boys does not mean a quick return.
The licensing issue, brought in to protect the domestic game’s elite, now represents a huge barrier for any prospective buyer.
But however unbending the RFL may appear, they are determined to protect the integrity of the competition. They should not be blamed for that stance.
If fingers should be pointed, it should be at those who built up the debts that have left the Bulls teetering on the brink.