Bradford East MP David Ward insisted Odsal will be never be anything other than a “big black hole” in the Bulls’ finances and claimed a groundshare with City held the key to a sustainable future for both clubs.
Ward said the Bulls’ financial crisis was partly due to the cost of being at Odsal and that City were paying an “absolute fortune” in rent to Valley Parade landlord Gordon Gibb. His solution would see both the city’s professional sports clubs play at Valley Parade, with a potential long-term possibility of buying the stadium from Gibb.
Ward told the T&A: “This needs to be raised as a matter of priority in any discussions about the future of the Bulls and City.
“When you are on the terraces at Odsal it’s awesome in terms of a venue, but the cost is bringing the club to its knees.
“Odsal will never be anything other than a big black hole, sucking the resources out of the playing side and detrimental to the development of the club.
When you are on the terraces at Odsal it’s awesome in terms of a venue, but the cost is bringing the club to its kneesDavid Ward MP
“You have a 25,000-seater, state-of-the-art stadium at Valley Parade and there’s room to develop it further.
“It’s used little more than 23 times a year as things stand and that just does not add up.
“If you look at the success of groundsharing at other clubs then it’s the only way forward. It makes economic sense and it simply has to happen.”
Two years ago, ambitious plans for a £75.5 million Odsal Sports Village were kicked firmly into touch due to a funding crisis.
Earlier this year the Bulls sold the lease on Odsal to the RFL, making them tenants rather than owners of their historic home.
Ward added: “As long as the Bulls stay at Odsal they will always be just sticking plasters over things until the next crisis – it would be throwing good money after bad to stay there.
“If the Odsal Sporting Village had got underway they would have had to move to Valley Parade for at least a couple of seasons anyway.
“Why not just bite the bullet on this one and recognise the economic realities? Whatever happens to Odsal will happen.
“It’s a highly developable part of the city with great links to the motorway, as we know.
“But that’s really a secondary issue. This is not about how the Bulls are going to raise the next £500,000; it’s about the development of both clubs for the next 15 to 20 to 25 years.
“All the economic reality is pointing in one direction. Let’s just get the debate going.
“I actually think many people are put off investing in the Bulls because they regard the stadium as being a lost cause.
“Once you’ve backed that with joint funding, you’ve got a fantastic stadium in Valley Parade as it stands.
“But then you can start talking about the development of that stadium and the surrounding area.
“We need to get some economic regeneration in the city centre and in Manningham – this could kick-start that.”
The Bulls played two seasons at Valley Parade in 2001 and 2002 during the redevelopment of Odsal, the club’s home since 1934.
Ward added: “Maybe it wasn’t particularly friendly when the Bulls were previously there but I know City would be very, very welcoming this time.
“City are paying an absolute fortune every single year in rent to Gordon Gibb.
“Ideally, if both clubs came together then the prospects of buying out Gibb at Valley Parade could be more of a possibility. Then you start to become masters of your own destiny.”