Bradford Bulls chairman visits Qatar for talks on plans for Odsal stadium

Pictured at the Aspire sports facility in Qatar are, from left, Victor Burton, acting head of Bradford College’s Business School, Mr Al-Mulla, head of protocol for the Prime Minister of Qatar, MP Gerry Sutcliffe and Ronnie Todd, Bradford College’s pro

Pictured at the Aspire sports facility in Qatar are, from left, Victor Burton, acting head of Bradford College’s Business School, Mr Al-Mulla, head of protocol for the Prime Minister of Qatar, MP Gerry Sutcliffe and Ronnie Todd, Bradford College’s pro

First published in Bulls

A potential sporting village at Odsal has moved a step closer to reality as Bradford Bulls honorary chairman Gerry Sutcliffe has revealed he is in talks with Government officials in Qatar about how to replicate the success of their world-class Aspire sports facility.

Bradford South MP Mr Sutcliffe joined Bradford College project manager Ronnie Todd for a four-day trip to Qatar this month to strengthen educational and business links, as they revealed the district benefits from an estimated £5 million in revenue from Qatari students at the college and university each year.

The trip involved discussing the possibility of Bradford College students helping with the 2022 World Cup bid in Qatar, with one Qatari student at the college already helping devise the heating systems that will keep all the Qatar World Cup stadiums at 27 degrees.

The next trip will see Mr Sutcliffe and Mr Todd have more in-depth talks about how developments in Qatar could benefit Bradford and the MP said there were plans to take the Bulls there next year to try and establish Rugby League.

Mr Sutcliffe, an honorary fellow of the college in recognition of his successful stint as Sports Minister under the Labour government, said: “It was a great trip. So many Qatari students come to Bradford and the Aspire stadium is just unbelievable with the variety of sports they have there.

“With my involvement with the Bulls, they want us to go back out and see whether we can look at arranging a partnership with Aspire in the UK at Odsal.

“We can look at whether we can turn Odsal Stadium into a similar sports village that they have in Qatar. We would want investment from anywhere and everywhere and it would be the first of its type in the country.

“We have a long way to go, but we will be having discussions in late February with officials at Aspire and government officials. But it could be what we have always said, with a wide range of sports under the Bulls banner.”

The Aspire Dome in Doha has gained recognition as one of the top sports facilities in the world and is used by football teams including Manchester United and Bayern-Munich as their pre-season training camp.

Mr Todd said: “We are 110 per cent behind this. Between the college and the university, Qatar probably injects £5 million of income into Bradford.

“What we want to do is get involved in the Qatar World Cup, but one step at a time “The World Cup infrastructure will be large and it would be great for Bradford companies to meet the right people and get involved in the process.”

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