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Despair at Bradford Bulls redundancies
There were scenes of despair at Bradford Bulls’ Odsal ground yesterday as staff were told to pack up and leave without warning.
One woman, believed to be the club shop manager, was called on her Lanzarote holiday to be told not to return to her job, while others emptied their desks of all their belongings after being told the news minutes after turning up for work.
All the sales, marketing and maintenance staff, with decades of experience between them, were told by joint adminstrator Brendan Guilfoyle they were being made redundant with immediate effect.
Mr Guilfoyle went to Odsal first, then to the Tong training ground where all the coaches, including head coach Mick Potter, were let go.
Mr Potter, who said he felt like he had been “stabbed” revealed he was asked to work for nothing until the end of the season – an offer he declined.
Mr Potter lost his job along with his wife Megan, who worked in the ticket office. They were among 15 employees including, chief executive Ryan Duckett, to be made redundant.
“I was embarrassed that he asked me as I am sure he is not working for nothing. I physically could not do that,” said Mr Potter.
Asked whether he felt if he had been stabbed in the back, Mr Potter replied: “I have been stabbed in the front. There is something going on here definitely that is not right.
“When you are in administration, there are no real surprises and you should expect the worst but hope for the best. At the moment there are no coaching staff to coach the players unless they have got someone who will work for nothing.
“The morale of the players is at its lowest ebb, but there might be someone come in and magically pull it all back and reappoint us.”
Sergio Negre, the stadium’s 64-year-old maintenance officer, said he was told he was going because he was highly paid. His wife said he was on an estimated £14,400 a year.
Mr Negre said he felt he had been deceived by the club’s former bosses.
“They lied to us telling us everything was going to be all right at Christmas,” Mr Negre said.
“They said our jobs were safe and nothing would change and now we are being told they can’t pay us.”
Stuart Duffy, the Bulls’ long-serving football and media manager who also lost his job, said: “Everybody was shocked and disappointed when we heard the news.
“But from my point of view I just want to say what a privilege it’s been to work for such a fantastic club, with some of the best fans in the game, for the past 14 years.”
Another worker, in tears after the announcement, told the Telegraph & Argus that she felt sorry for the fans.
“They are basically taking away years of experience in the club,” she added.
“I just hope the club can be saved for the fans. Once all the fans find out what has happened there is going to be a lot of anger.”
Bulls’ fan Ian Whitehead had come to the ground ahead of last night’s fans’ meeting when he heard the news.
“Fans haven’t been kept informed at all,” he said.
“It has all happened behind the scenes but fans need to know about this. We need some kind of liasion with the club and supporters.”
Bradford South MP Gerry Sutcliffe, a former sports minister, said: “The administrator has got to do his job and this is one of them, but it’s a sad state of affairs.
“This makes it even more important that a buyer comes along, but we only have a few days left. It doesn’t fill you with much hope.
“The fact they’re playing so well on the pitch at the moment makes it even more of a tragedy. The players and fans are doing their jobs and the administrators need to do theirs.”
In a statement, Mr Guilfoyle – partner in The P&A Partnership – confirmed he had to make the chief executive, the head coach and 13 other employees redundant at the club.
Mr Guilfoyle said: “This is about survival. We have no cash and no funds have been offered. It is with great regret that we have had to make these redundancies but there are no alternatives.”
Mr Guilfoyle confirmed that five administration staff have been retained to enable the match on Sunday against London Broncos at Odsal to go ahead.
Employees in the Lottery and the charitable foundation continue to be employed as these are separate operations.
The RFL issued a statement saying that it was concerned by news of the redundancies.
“The governing body received no official notification of this action and is meeting the administrator to seek an explanation and clarification,” the spokesman added.
“The RFL is continuing to establish the facts behind this development and will not be making any further comment until we have spoken to all the parties involved.”