OUR last game at Odsal Stadium will indeed be our game against the Sheffield Eagles on Sunday, September 1, bringing the curtain down on an extraordinary innings for Odsal Stadium.

The RFL’s chief operating officer has written confirming the acceptance of our notice terminating our occupancy arrangements, and in doing so allowing the club to embark on the next stage in its pursuit to return to the Super League.

Our new hire agreement with Dewsbury, for seasons 2020 and 2021 (Note: The RFL released a statement last night saying approval of the move had been given only for 2020), allows for a further extension if required, and we can now up the tempo with Bradford Council, as we expand the discussions and considerations of suitable land alternatives for a boutique stadium development to house the Bradford Bulls.

Having signed a memorandum of understanding with an experienced stadium developer to work to evaluate an affordable development option within the Bradford city boundaries is a significant step in the process. I will keep emphasising affordable because it’s important that the club in future years can meet the cost of being based there.

When you consider that the major impediment for promotion to Super League is winning the Championship division, it becomes more critical that we invest every extra penny we can generate into strengthening our squad.

That means protecting our twin strategies of operating an effective reserve grade to support the performance of the first team, and also expanding the Bradford Bulls high performance programmes around our under-18 and under-16 elite squads.

Our temporary relocation to Dewsbury supports this strategy, as it provides a much more economic basis for the club to operate whilst we seek promotion to the Super League.

Instead of incurring the outrageous maintenance costs, the true cost of opening and running the stadium, including the business rates and rent burden, a leaner more efficient Bradford Bulls intends to spend those gains on the most important area - player development.

It will also allow the club to prepare for whatever new media rights arrangements are on the horizon, as the existing media rights deal, worth around £40million pounds per annum, is shopped around the market place by Super League CEO Robert Elstone and RFL CEO Ralph Rimmer.

The RFL/Super League current deal expires at the end of the 2021 season. Hopefully this dynamic duo are able to deliver for the benefit of all the rugby league stakeholders, but since hope isn’t a strategy, we at the Bradford Bulls need to do everything we can to make sure that, regardless of the new central distribution arrangements, that we are 'lean and mean' and winning consistently on the field.

Money spent on players or money spent fixing crumbling terraces and crush barriers, leaking roofs, and replacing expensive stadium lights? In the end, that’s what it comes down to.

When you think about the decision in those terms it’s a no-brainer. Whilst the last game against the Sheffield Eagles will represent the end of an era for Odsal Stadium, it begins the new steps in our journey for operating a sustainable club in the Super League.

The club will do its best to give old lady Odsal a proper send off a week on Sunday, as of course will our players.

Make sure you witness history as we strive to keep our play-off hopes alive. With two games remaining, we must beat Sheffield Eagles and then bottomed-placed Rochdale.

Whilst we sit in seventh position, a win against Sheffield Eagles will propel us to sixth spot, with one game remaining. Two wins will put us on 33 points. That is all we can control.

Featherstone Rovers currently sit in fifth spot, and must win one of their last two matches to secure their play-off spot - Batley Bulldogs away and Toulouse Olympique at home.

Frankly, no games are easy for any teams at the business end of the competition, ourselves included. We will need a complete and total effort on Sunday week, to put down a Sheffield team who are equally desperate to haul in Featherstone. It makes for an exciting finish for the regular rounds of an extremely competitive Championship race.

Today of course will see St Helens take on the Warrington Wolves in the Challenge Cup final at Wembley, followed by the final of the 1895 Cup being contested by the Sheffield Eagles and the Widnes Vikings.

St Helens are the form rugby league team in the northern hemisphere, and on paper should be 10 points clear of Warrington at full-time, but I think the Wolves will be a tough nut to crack, so expect it to be much closer after 80 minutes.

Sheffield should be too strong for a battered Widnes outfit, and hopefully next year, the matches are reversed and the curtain raiser isn’t held after the main game!

Also worthy of mention is the race to avoid Super League relegation, with three rounds remaining in the contest.

Unbelievably, five teams are separated by just two points. Leeds and Wakefield sit on 20 points, and Huddersfield, Hull KR and the London Broncos sit on 18 points. Let me say none of those teams are safe, which makes this scenario a much tougher equation than ever before.

At least with the middle eights structure, so gleefully abandoned by the Super League clubs last year, every Super League could avoid relegation.

Now, each of these five clubs are genuinely at risk, one must be relegated and as I mentioned in a previous column, I thought this battle would come down to the last round, and potentially come down to points for/against. I think those loopy fixtures could be coming home to roost for some.

No such confusion at the other end of the table, with St Helens' impeccable season-long performance setting them up for a clean sweep, probably the triple dip of Challenge Cup, League Leaders Shield and Grand Final winners. I wonder what Fred Done (co-founder of bookmakers Betfred) was offering on that outcome for 2019!

See you all on Sunday, September 1 for our last game at Odsal.