Exclusive: More details on Odsal lease saga revealed including key change to agreement

Aaron Bower
Odsal Bradford Bulls Alamy

The Odsal Stadium, home of Bradford Bulls - Alamy

The Odsal Stadium lease is not expected to be transferred to new owners before the end of February, Love Rugby League has been told – and the stadium’s long-term future could be uncertain after it emerged the terms of the lease no longer guarantee rugby league has to be the venue’s primary use for any new owner.

The Rugby Football League are currently inviting offers for the lease, which they acquired in 2012 after Bradford Bulls‘ well-publicised financial difficulties led to the governing body stepping in and spending £1.2million in a move which was described by the governing body at the time as a move to preserve the sport’s future in Bradford.

However, they are now keen to sell the lease and have appointed property firm Knight Frank to oversee the sale.

Bidders have until January 31 at 12:30pm to lodge their interest in purchasing the lease, and Love Rugby League has been told there has been significant interest.

But the details of the lease do not necessarily mean Odsal has to be used as a rugby league venue by any new owners.

The latest on the future of Odsal, home of Bradford Bulls

A covenant in the lease dictating that now no longer exists, Love Rugby League has been told, meaning that hypothetically, any interested parties can use Odsal whatever purpose they wish – which could potentially have implications for the Bulls. That detail expired in the lease in 2019, it is understood, but has not been an issue to this point due to the obvious nature of the RFL having no desire to use Odsal for any other purpose.

But that could change now. Love Rugby League understands there are significant businesses in the Bradford region who have an interest in making a bid for the lease.

RFL sources have indicated to Love Rugby League that they remain confident there is nothing in terms of any bids thus far that would potentially threaten the existence of rugby league continuing to be played at Odsal.

The Bulls purchased the Odsal lease in October 2002 on a 150-year term, before it was transferred to the RFL a decade later.

The club now pay rent to the governing body to play at the stadium and Knight Frank’s brochure advertising the sale of Odsal suggests both the Bulls and Odsal Motorsport – the stock car company who also operate out of the stadium – generate an income of around £125,000 per year.

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