Departing Potter warns bad news may follow good for Bradford Bulls (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Mick Potter: Super League licence award ‘fantastic’ but depressing 2012 season has ‘set Bradford Bulls back a couple of years’
Mick Potter last night hailed the decision to keep the Bulls in Super League but warned supporters to brace themselves for a tough couple of years at Odsal .
Bradford will remain in the top flight after the Rugby Football League awarded the club a one-year probationary licence.
This season’s financial crisis, leading to a slide into administration and a subsequent six-point penalty, had raised fears over the Bulls’ future.
But the RFL issued a statement yesterday saying their independent board of directors had allowed the club to remain in a 14-team Super League for 2013.
RFL chief executive Nigel Wood said: “A probationary licence allows us to closely monitor the performance of Bradford Bulls next season and develop a view on what direction we take in future years.”
Potter was due to arrive back in his native Australia today after calling time on his two-year reign as Bradford coach, opening the door for Francis Cummins to be confirmed as his successor on Monday.
Potter told the T&A: “This (licence) is fantastic news and I’ve said all along that the competition would not be the same without Bradford in it.
“What they bring to Super League with their large, loyal and passionate following and the atmosphere they create is an event in itself.
“I’m certainly not discrediting any other clubs who may have aspirations to get into Super League and I am maybe a bit biased.
“But Bradford’s fanbase is such a good thing for rugby league and it would have been sad had they dropped out of the top flight.
“Our sport isn’t football; in fact, it’s nothing like football. It’s nowhere near as big and we can’t afford to have that luxury of teams going up and down. We need the biggest teams in Super League.”
Potter is confident that new owners Omar Khan and Gerry Sutcliffe can now begin in earnest the task of assembling a competitive squad for next season.
With 17 players out of contract, the Bulls’ first-team squad will be decimated during the close-season.
The Bulls are also busy scouring the market for new signings and Potter is confident there is a core group of talented home-grown players like Elliott Whitehead and John Bateman to build a team around.
But he warned: “This season just ended is really going to set Bradford back a couple of years.
“I know that Gerry and Omar are guys that are passionate about the club. They are hard-working and honest and they want the club to be successful – but I think there’s only 16 players signed for next season as things stand.
“We missed out on a couple of players we would have liked to retain and all the top-line players have pretty much secured contracts elsewhere.
“So your recruitment drive is going to be minimal and the finances you have available to that are going to be minimal. But there is a core of good players still at the club and that’s definitely something to build on.”
Bulls playmaker Luke Gale reflected: “The fact we are staying in Super League is awesome news. I’ve spoken to a few of the lads and everyone’s absolutely delighted.
“Hopefully we can now get on with recruiting players. I’m already looking forward to next season.”
Meanwhile, the RFL have launched an investigation into the events which led to Craig Kopczak terminating his contract with the Bulls.