FORMER RFL chief executive Nigel Wood has today given his first interview since becoming chairman of Bradford Bulls.

Wood and his family have had a majority stake in the club since their consortium took charge from Andrew Chalmers in 2019.

Here he answers questions from the Telegraph & Argus about his new role, the intended return to Odsal, the club’s financial position and their ambitions on the field.

Can you put a time frame on when you hope to see the Bulls playing at Odsal again?

"We are working with the leaseholder (RFL), the freeholder (Bradford Council) and Startrax around the clock.

While we are making good progress, there is still some ground to cover in making it a sustainable and viable location.

That is the most important aspect for the Bulls to prevent any future traumas for the club. We are however hopeful that we could have some positive news shortly."

How damaging has it been for the club’s reputation and identity to not be playing in the city?

"In our view it is vital to get back to the city. It is our first, and probably second and third priorities for that matter.

Moving grounds is a really risky undertaking and there have been too many examples, particularly in rugby league, where clubs move and disintegrate within a decade.

We all know of clubs that are a shadow of themselves after leaving their home towns, and I think it’s fair to say London Broncos have paid a bit of a price for their nomadic past."

Was there ever a worry that getting back to Bradford might not happen and how much work has taken place to achieve this?

"Getting back to Bradford is our number one objective but it can’t just be about getting back.

All my life there have been “plans for Odsal” but nothing has emerged and little has been spent on it for nearly two decades.

Most other towns and cities in the world of rugby league have managed to move forward substantially during that time and there is no reason why the Bulls supporters shouldn’t expect facilities with the same levels of comfort and enjoyment as they get when going to other grounds.

But that is a medium-term objective and certainly not one we can achieve on our own.

I am just a proud Bradfordian who happens to believe that the city needs the Bulls and the Bulls actually need to be in the city."

How does the club’s current position compare with when the consortium took over in 2019?

"The club is stable financially and virtually all significant historic debt has been paid down."

Obviously, a lot of Bulls fans are naturally wary after what has happened with the club in recent years. What assurances can you offer about the situation going forward?

"The past 12 months have been a great challenge for all sections of society and no one has been immune.

A number of people have suggested the club should simply enter administration and that may have been the easy thing for us to do, but we were adamant that couldn’t happen after the previous decade. We were conscious we needed to start rebuilding trust."

What is your view on the job that Mark Sawyer has done to help stabilise the club since the buy-out?

"Mark is a sound and experienced operator and has done a really, really good job. He would also be the first to say it has been a good team effort from a number of other volunteers and staff.

Our ownership is predicated on trying to maintain more stability, but we are still very much “in it to win it”. We are in the entertainment industry after all with responsibilities for many people’s hopes and aspirations."

Are you taking up the role as chairman reluctantly or is this something that was always planned?

"I really didn’t want to do anything that could potentially damage the club or confidence in it, so I suppose the candid answer is yes, I was a touch reluctant to become chairman.

The only thing that matters is the club and whatever is in the club’s very best interests, but people I trust, and whose opinion I value, said I needed to step up.

It certainly wasn’t part of my life plan to rock up as chairman at this stage - it is a serious commitment. Trust me, there are calmer and more peaceful retirement options.

And I would add, to be clear, that if anyone better qualified or better resourced puts their hand up, I would very happily stand back if it serves the best interests of the club.

But until that day, I’ll give it my very best shot to do some good for the club."

What is your reaction to the online criticism – and how do you plan to win over the “boo boys”?

"I don’t really have a reaction as such. I have had some high-profile positions and inevitably been associated with decisions that may have upset people from time to time.

So, it goes with the territory whether I like it or not. We live in an era when opinions are shared openly.

Some are informed opinions but some, actually the majority, are not and there will be plenty of time to straighten that up going forward.

I can only ask to be judged on our collective performance since we took up the challenge at the end of 2019 and I don’t think we have let anyone down so far.

And I will be very happy to talk face to face with anyone, who wants to be constructive, when some normality returns, on anything I can help with."

The Bulls have ambitions of reaching the play-offs this season. How confident are you that this will be a good campaign?

"I think the Championship is an under-rated competition and there are some great squads and strong clubs.

I know the coaching team are very happy with the recruitment. We will want to improve year-on-year and build a strong club that supporters and the city deserve."

How would you describe the job that John Kear has done and continues to do in rebuilding the Bulls after the lean years?

"John is a very experienced coach whom I’ve known for a while, as you’d expect, and whom I respect greatly."

What is the current situation regarding the new academy licence?

"We are submitting our academy application this week and yes, we place a very great emphasis on the academy."

Is it even more important now to continue producing young talent?

"The RFL have a policy of “fewer, better academies” and maybe some Super League clubs, where it seems to have been discussed, share that philosophy.

We would support a “more, better academies” approach.

We enthusiastically agree that there needs to be high standards, but we are in the market for giving young people playing and career opportunities…in all areas of professional sports by the way, not just on the field of play."