BRADFORD Bulls' absence from Odsal has opened a window for the possible return of speedway and stock cars.

That’s the message from the Rugby Football League who hold the reins to the stadium, which has not been used since the Championship club played Sheffield Eagles in the final game of last season on September 1.

Both motorsports have operated in tandem several times in the past - most recently between 1985, when Odsal was refurbished to host the World Individual Speedway Championship Final, and 1997, when Bradford Dukes - the last regular users for anything other than rugby - left.

The RFL have a 125-year lease on the stadium and chief operating officer Tony Sutton stresses that the present state of Odsal being in “mothballs” is not ideal.

He said: “In most long leaseholds most of the obligations and rights lie with the leaseholder so effectively it’s like owning it.

“Having no tenant means that the RFL have no rent coming in, while still paying costs of ownership, albeit reduced because it is not being used, plus costs of securing it, while making sure we continue preventative and constructive maintenance to ensure that if the Bulls do opt to come back, it is in a state where they can.

“I am genuinely open to any conversations concerning the use of Odsal Stadium.”

Odsal has potential income from one-off events events such as monster truck shows or firework displays, as have been staged in the past, but Sutton estimates these are unlikely to see the doors opening on more than just a handful of occasions per year.

Former professional footballers Bobby and Allan Ham promoted speedway throughout the Dukes' 12-year tenure, providing only England’s fifth world champion in Gary Havelock, while claiming four top level Knock-out Cup successes and winning the inaugural Elite League title immediately before closing.

Sutton emphasises: “I’d be delighted to hear from anyone who has a proposal that looks to be viable, either as a one-off event or a longer term arrangement.”

Six years ago Tony Mole made strenuous efforts to try and revive Bradford Speedway in the same way he had succeeded in Birmingham, at Perry Barr, and before that at Workington’s Derwent Park - a stadium also shared a with rugby league club.

Kidderminster-based businessman Mole says that planning consent to hold speedway at the stadium still exists while Steve Rees who, when a shale circuit existed at Odsal, ran stock cars, says that the same applies for his purposes.

“I’d hold my world final there this year and not at King’s Lynn, if it was available,” Rees stated, while pointing out that, besides the track, a significant amount would need to be spent on restoring the perimeter fence, which was taken out and sold for scrap several years ago when the price of steel was high and the Bulls were, not for the first time in recent years, in financial trouble.

Rees, who also promoted speedway at Stoke for a while and has lost none of his enthusiasm to see Bradford re-open, says that stock cars could operate on Tarmac (the old Tarmac base still exists around the rugby pitch) but his preference has always been for shale.

He estimates the total cost of completely refurbishing the arena to host the two motorsports could be as much as £200,000, although other estimates vary.

“If it was speedway only, it might be cheaper as you could get away with a mesh fence with the new air fences but, to be viable, I think the project would need both speedway and stock cars.”

“I was surprised that the RFL didn’t step in, as landlords, to keep the Bulls at Odsal,” continued Rees.

“We’ve had a passionate interest since the day it closed and have been in constant contact to try and get speedway and stock cars back there.

“I spoke to Tony (Mole) several weeks ago and, although he’s ‘restless’ I feel he now can at best be regarded as only vaguely interested.”

Back in 2014 Mole was repeatedly frustrated by indifferent responses from the rugby club owners and concedes that a combination of age and ill-health probably now rule him out.

Historical concerns about lifting the rugby pitch corners every week would not currently apply, although consideration would have to be made of the possibility of the Bulls moving back to their traditional home.

Halifax-based Geoff Hayes has kept the name of the ‘Halifax Dukes’ alive as a nomadic side contesting junior meetings but also acknowledges that his own “health issues” now mean the window of opportunity has probably come just too late for a serious involvement.

Hayes explored numerous sites in the Calderdale region and further afield with a view to building a new track in West Yorkshire but without success.

His vision was to call any new side “Yorkshire Dukes”. He said:"When the Dukes moved from the Shay, people wouldn’t travel from Halifax to support a side called Bradford!”

He claims the currently banked corners would have to be dug out and levelled, the pitch re-laid and then a membrane placed over the turf before the track is laid in a similar fashion, he says, to how the Principality Stadium in Cardiff is used to accommodate a temporary track for British Grand Prix track every year.

But he describes the cost and logistics of this as being “an insurmountable problem”, while adding: “I would still dearly love to see speedway return to the area.”

Allan Ham is now happily retired from a lifetime spent in football, speedway and the construction industry, but last week visited the site for only the second time in 23 years.

Ham, who played for, used to sponsor and is still involved with Bradford Park Avenue, was less pessimistic and, while confessing he was “out of touch with current costings”, felt they could be less than Rees’ estimate.

He said: “Much of what we used is still in place, although the stadium is looking tired at the moment.

“Getting speedway going again is possible but it would be a challenge.”

Back at RFL headquarters, Sutton re-iterates his position. He said: “At the moment I am effectively mothballing Odsal but I would be delighted to speak to anyone, and have spoken to some people already.

“I experienced a little bit of activity through phone calls when the stadium first became vacant at the start of September.

“They gave the impression of having various levels of intent but one in particular did feel like it was a serious proposal but it hasn’t progressed to anything yet.”

One northern-based speedway promoter, with a successful recent history in the sport, is known to have expressed an interest but Sutton remains cautious.

He concluded: “If you were going to bet me a tenner as to whether anything would come of it I’d have a job giving you better odds than ‘evens’.

“I’ve certainly not got people battering the door down saying they want to stage 30 or 40 events there at the moment.”