BRADFORD Bulls CEO Jason Hirst has admitted the club would be open to investors, amid fan concerns that the money is not there for the club to grow.

Last night’s fans’ forum largely went smoothly, but there was tension and angry dissent at the end of the night, when questions were not opened up to the floor.

Hirst and chairman Nigel Wood did go and speak to members of the crowd afterwards, with the former also speaking exclusively to the T&A.

Discussing supporter concerns that the money “isn’t there”, Hirst said: “We’d absolutely be open to investors. We’d welcome a stronger management team in terms of additional value, be that monetary or otherwise.

“As a management team, we’re always open to sit down and talk to anyone who’s realistically wanting to get involved in investing in the Bradford Bulls.

“There’s no one person bigger than the Bradford Bulls. Everything Nigel does, I do, the volunteers and staff do, it’s done tirelessly because we want the Bradford Bulls to be successful.

“If there are people out there who have the money, knowledge, expertise and they think they can support us or do better, then we will sit and talk with them.

“Speaking for myself, and no-one else, if someone out there can do a better job than me, I’m man enough to recognise that and talk with them.”

It had been reported elsewhere earlier this month that Bulls’ playing budget would be reduced “quite significantly” for next season, but at the forum, the club insisted they were hoping for a similar one to this year.

Hirst told the T&A afterwards: “Is it frustrating to hear those reports? I suppose it is to a certain extent, but that’s the modern world.

“People want to speculate and comment. 21st century social media has lots of advantages, but it has some things that aren’t.

“The fact is the budget hasn’t been set in stone yet, because we don’t know what central distribution we’re going to get, but it won’t be too dissimilar from this year’s.”

Some fans could be heard grumbling at the forum that this would be their last season with a season ticket at Bulls, having grown disillusioned with the club’s current status.

Asked how those fans could be won back over, Hirst said: “There’s various things we can do, and we have to look at ourselves and see how we can be better in terms of providing matchday entertainment.

“Not just the 80 minutes of rugby, but live bands, face-painting, the arcade games we’ve got and deals on discounted beverages.

“There’s all that off-field stuff, but also what happens from three o’clock on a Sunday afternoon. The more successful we are on the pitch, the more the fans will come.

“That’s a challenge for Mark Dunning and his coaching team, supported by the club’s leadership, the likes of myself, Nigel Wood and Brian Noble.

“We need to sit down and digest the fans’ forums, look at the results, and pick out common themes, and have work streams to address those.

“It’s very difficult, as we’re a part-time organisation that relies heavily on volunteers, but we aim to leave no stone unturned, and implement anything that’s realistically possible to improve the experience.

“In terms of the match and what happens on the field, recruitment and retention is absolutely vital, and we need to be better with that moving forward.”

Hirst admitted it was probably a mistake to not give fans a chance to take to the floor afterwards too, saying: “Having reflected on feedback that I believe is fair, the next fans’ forum will include a section with an open mic, for constructive, respectful and relevant questions, not ones directed at Nigel Wood and his family and his finances.”

Many are unhappy with the stock car partnerships with Startrax and now Yorstox, feeling it has devalued the stadium and left Bulls with pitch problems.

Addressing that concern, Hirst said: “I came into the partnership with an open mind, as the stock car people are valued partners of the Bulls.

“We both have priorities, but when you have such a short turnaround it is very difficult.

“I am a great believer that if we work together, obstacles can be overcome and it’s about building collaborative relationships.

“The stock cars want to be successful and so do we, so if we help each other, we’ve got a better chance of that.

“It’s about understanding each other’s challenges, and working together to overcome them.”