The RFL have agreed a deal that will see the governing body add Odsal Stadium to its property portfolio.
The RFL has paid an undisclosed sum in an arrangement that will allow Bradford Bulls to remain at their spiritual home as tenants.
RFL Chairman Richard Lewis said the move would bring security to Odsal, which has recently been the subject of predatory approaches.
“This arrangement is absolutely the right thing to do because it safeguards the future of one of the sport’s most famous stadia,” said Lewis.
“Odsal is famous throughout the world and it would be a tragedy were the venue to be lost to the sport in the way that other evocative Rugby League venues have already been lost.
“We have paid market value for the stadium and the Bulls will pay market value rental to the RFL to play their home fixtures at Odsal.”
Although plans to turn Odsal into the ‘Wembley of the North’ have been circulating since the 1940s, the RFL has no immediate plans to develop the ground as the sport’s national stadium.
Instead, ownership of Odsal by the RFL will safeguard the stadium at a time when the economic downturn has seen the planned redevelopment of a sporting village concept put on hold.
The RFL already has an established and constantly changing property portfolio which includes ownership and/or interests in many other professional and community Rugby League stadia. As a matter of course the governing body regularly sells on and redevelops stadia if it is deemed to be in the best interest of the current tenants and the game as a whole.
Bradford Bulls Chairman Peter Hood said the sale of Odsal to the RFL would enable the club to face the future with confidence.
“This is excellent news for Bradford Bulls, for the Bradford district and for the sport,” said Hood. “Odsal is an iconic Rugby League venue and is strategically important to the Bradford district, located as it is at the head of the city’s principal access corridor.
“The sale to the RFL safeguards our immediate future and keeps all the options open once the economy recovers from recession.
“On behalf of everyone in Bradford I would like to thank the RFL Board of Directors for their vision and support by investing in Odsal in the way they have.”
The RFL’s property portfolio comprises grounds and stadia used by both professional and community clubs. These include Cougar Park, Keighley; Spotland Stadium, Rochdale; Normanton, Underbank; Hensingham; Maryport and Buslingthorpe Vale in Leeds.