Southern-based team become second League 1 bidder to go public for 2025

Aaron Bower
League 1 match ball

A League 1 match ball

Bedford Tigers have become the second team to publicly confirm they are in the running to join League 1 in 2025.

The Southern Conference League side have followed in the footsteps of Yorkshire Men’s League side Goole Vikings in confirming that they have formally lodged a bid to join the competition next year.

Bedford, who have existed for over 20 years, now have fully functioning women’s and wheelchair sides as well as their men’s team, who they hope will join the professional ranks in 2025.

The RFL recently confirmed they are welcoming submissions of interest to join the division, with a decision likely to be made later this summer to give the winning club time to prepare to make the transition to the professional game in League 1 next year. And Bedford have now stepped forward and confirmed they are one of the bidders.

In a statement, they said: “We are fully aware that this will come with some significant challenges, and it won’t be a decision that we will make lightly. There is a history of so-called expansion teams failing in recent years and we will need to be diligent to the task, ensuring that we are confident that we can be sustainable both on and off the field.

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“The club now has 20 years of established history in the area proudly delivering rugby league to all ages, genders and abilities.

“We have worked tirelessly since Covid to ensure that we are well placed for this with the club boasting Women’s and Wheelchair sides in their respective Championship competitions as well.

“We formed a Charitable Foundation in 2023 which is establishing itself and delivering small projects as it builds. These are all key components for our bid.”

Bedford also confirmed they believe their IMG score as things stand would be around 3.5, which would put them within touching distance of North Wales Crusaders at the bottom of the provisional gradings.

They said: “There are four other well established community rugby league clubs within a 40-mile radius and countless rugby union outlets at all levels which would provide an important local talent pool. There are also several players in the area having already played League 1 and Championship rugby league for London Skolars, Hemel Stags, Coventry Bears and London Broncos among other clubs.

“Following a dry run of the IMG grading criteria we have a score of 3.5 which puts us on a pretty sure footing within that system and just 1.57 behind North Wales Crusaders. That is without factoring in points for attendance, league placement and accounts. None of which we can do yet!”

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