THE Bulls today scotched rumours that their famed academy set-up could be under threat.

Chief executive Mark Sawyer has received concerned calls that the club may be forced to consider shutting down their prize jewel.

But he insists that could not be further from the truth.

Sawyer said: “Loads of people have been ringing me up and asking if we’ll be packing in. We’re certainly not.

“The club is built on its academy and everything will be done for it. Providing there’s a competition next season, we will do everything possible to be in it.

“I want to make that clear to everyone. It started off as one or two calls a few days and it’s built up to getting 10s of them from different clubs.

“Everything will be done to keep the academy going. You think how much people like Bullbuilder have done over the years.

“These are difficult times, obviously, but it’s a top priority of ours to make sure it is still there.

"It's been a production line of players over many years and we intend to keep that going. It's been the backbone of the club.”

The RFL announced a month ago that the reserves league would be shelved for 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

They have consulted with clubs over the competition structure for the academy championship and scholarship, making it clear that any decisions will be made in line with government advice.

The gradual easing of lockdown restrictions is starting to raise hopes of seeing some rugby this year – although it still appears to be unlikely.

Sawyer plans to sit down with John Kear at the start of next week for the first time since the sport was brought to a halt in March.

“I’m taking advantage of what Boris (Johnson) has been saying about having meetings again,” he added.

“It will be good to meet up with John and try to get some kind of vision for next season and see where he is. There are little things now where you can start to look ahead.

Sawyer confirmed the Bulls have not applied for an RFL bail-out from the £16 million government loan that has been supplied.

The financial help, which would have to be paid back over a set time, is seen as a “last resort” for those already struggling from the massive hit of not receiving any income.

Sawyer said: “It’s classified as that by the government to give clubs comfort that there are funds there. That’s their description.

“If there are any applications, it’s done under those strict conditions.

“The first tranche of money is for clubs who need an immediate cash injection. The Bulls aren’t in that position.

“We’re not applying for a loan in the first round as such.

“The Championship clubs are still more than interested in trying to play fixtures in front of a crowd this year, even if there are COVID restrictions on that.

“As we’ve said, there isn’t really the appetite with the majority to play behind closed doors.”