BRADFORD Bulls CEO Jason Hirst insists the building of a bar behind the main stand at Odsal, along with extending the broadcast gantry and adding a big screen, will take their IMG score beyond 13.

Theoretically, that shoots them right up into Super League contention, given the initial gradings only had nine sides above that lucky 13.

But as general manager Tracey Erby conceded at Monday night’s fans’ forum, Bradford have no idea how much the scores of their rivals have improved over last nine months, meaning their jump could be dwarfed by others.

Both Wakefield and Castleford received an indicative grading slightly higher than Bulls last October, but both have already made significant upgrades to their stadiums.

Regardless, Hirst still believes Bradford will be in Super League “sooner rather than later” with the improvements they are making at the club.

And that could be as the leaseholders of Odsal, with the CEO confirming Bulls remain “an optimistic live runner” in the bidding process.

He did however confirm that any decision on who takes that off the RFL’s hands has been pushed back until later this summer.

While Monday night’s fans’ forum at Odsal was largely a feelgood affair, with a new signing, contract extension, professional deal and third kit all revealed, a Q&A session offered the chance for Hirst to get into the nitty-gritty of all matters off the field.

Giving an update on the leasehold, he said: “It’s an ongoing process and we’re in regular dialogue with Knight Frank (the property consultancy firm who have been hired to sell Odsal).

“We remain a live runner and we’re optimistic we’ve got a good chance of getting the lease, but we can’t say It’s definitely going to happen.

“I’m told the process is coming to a close, and I expect we’ll have a decision in the next month or two.”

Hirst was also asked what Bulls’ next steps would be if the leasehold was sold to another buyer.

He said: “If we weren’t to get it, we are protected, because there’s a stipulation in the document that rugby league in Bradford must be protected by whoever gets the lease, so I fully expect us to still play here at Odsal regardless.

“We’d have to see how any new landlord interacted and communicated with us, but it should be business as usual when it comes to playing here.

“If we were to get the lease, it puts us in a better place, as we’ve have more control over our own destiny and what we can do with the stadium.

“But we would have to get into dialogue with the council, as we’re not millionaires, and can’t get a £50million stadium just like that.

“We’d need help from the public and private sector, if we were to do what we want with Odsal.

“Whether we get the lease or not, there’ll be an announcement about it, but we want to deal in facts, so please just trust us to be patient.”

Bulls’ stadium score in the indicative grading last October was less than one out of the three points on offer, badly hampering their overall ranking.

But a positive Hirst said: “We’re expecting planning permission through imminently for the pavilion bar we’re building behind the main stand, so that’d be an extra point for us on IMG.

“We’re also keen to extend the TV gantry, which would boost our score.

“There’s also the obvious one of the LED scoreboard, which we had for the Wakefield 1895 Cup game.

“That will return for the next Wakefield game on July 14, and while it’s on a hire basis for now, we hope to purchase one of our own soon.”

Bulls' cup game against Wakefield say an electronic screen debut, and it will be back again when the pair face off this month.Bulls' cup game against Wakefield saw a debut for the electronic screen at Odsal, and it will be back again when the pair face off this month. (Image: Tom Pearson.)

Erby was cautiously positive, saying: “We’re growing all the time in terms of our fandom, with our digital interactions continuing to go up.

“Jason’s already mentioned plans for stadium improvements, our finance score will increase this year and the players are doing the best they can performance-wise, so it all adds up.

“As for whether that’s going to be enough to make Super League next season, we just don’t know at the moment, as there’ s no chance to compare our score with the likes of Castleford.

“But one thing we can say for definite is that we’ll be in a stronger position at the end of this year, when it comes to our final grading, than we were when we got our indicative score last October.”

Hirst insists Bulls are not naïve enough to put all their eggs in the Super League 2025 basket, saying: “We were at 12.02 with our score last October, and knowing the facility behind the stand will be worth an extra point, we know we’ll be in the mix.

“Who knows if we’ll make it into Super League this time around, because as Tracey mentioned, we can’t keep an eye on the scores of other clubs.

“But even if we don’t make it this year, I hope you see the ambition of the club, as we wouldn’t be making these improvements if we didn’t have that.

“I’m realistic but I think we’ll return to Super League sooner rather than later, and remember you as fans can help us with that.

“Getting more numbers through the gates helps us with our average attendance score, and also provides extra revenue money to help us buy players for more competition.

 “We’re in the best place we’ve been in for years, as the club has people who care, along with a great head coach in Eamon O’Carroll and great players.

Eamon had an approach for Super League a few weeks ago, which wasn’t from Salford as reported by some by the way.

“But we had no doubt he’d turn it down because he wants to write his name into this club’s folklore and I believe he’ll do that during his contract (until at least the end of 2027) here.”