The RFL says that rugby league would be “weaker” and the Championship structure “damaged” without a club in Bradford.
The RFL has written to all of its member clubs updating them on the situation at Bradford.
The governing body has attempted to explain why a new club formed from the Bulls would play in the Championship in 2017.
Love Rugby League has obtained this email from RFL chief executive Nigel Wood, which reads as follows:
“I am writing to update you on the current situation of the Bradford Bulls club. As you will no doubt be aware the club was placed into Administration on 14th November 2016 and since then the Administrator has been attempting to sell the club as a going concern. Throughout this process the RFL has supported the club and its staff in an attempt to navigate it through to calmer waters.
Regrettably it would appear that the Administrator has not found a buyer for the club or for any part of it. The accumulated debts to unconnected parties of approximately £1M and the estimated funding shortfall of circa £1M for 2017 has deterred many interested parties from pursuing a formal offer. Accordingly we have been advised by the Administrator that he has ceased to trade with a view to liquidating the Club.
However the RFL is aware of a number of individuals and consortia interested in taking professional Rugby League forward in Bradford. Similarly the independent Board of the RFL has also concluded that our sport would be weaker and our competition structure damaged without a club in Bradford. Accordingly the Board has asked interested parties to contact the RFL directly.
The Board recognises the need to balance competition integrity while protecting the reputation of the sport and acknowledges that all other clubs in the league have prepared for the competition in 2017 on the presumption that Bradford would be competing in Championship. Accordingly the Board, having balanced up all the alternatives, have concluded that a new club would be invited to assume the membership slot vacated by Bradford Bulls (Northern) Ltd., in the Championship. However the club would start the season with a points deduction of 12 points, and the central distribution would be limited to the lowest distribution available in Championship, with the funds freed up being used to assist the closing down of the current company. Clearly all player contracts are voided and the players will become free agents. The RFL will provide dispensations, as we have in the past, to those players who are contracted to other clubs, where appropriate.
The Board recognises that there are arguments that could be made to reach a different decision, but they have concluded that in the best interests of the wider sport, the other clubs in Championship, the 1000 plus season ticket holders who have invested in the sport and the players and staff rendered unemployed by the failure of the club are pragmatically best dealt with in the course of action set out above.
In closing could I add that Rugby League has a long and enviable record of rallying round parts of the sport that encounter difficulties. The situation at Bradford is as acute as any experienced. We have been inundated with messages of support for the club and encouragement for the centre to assist the Bradford club as practically as possible. The challenges facing the new club will be significant however I know the sport can be relied upon to deliver the support and goodwill that will be needed to recover its current circumstances.”