As four-time super league Champions Bradford Rugby Club enter their seventh week of administration, hopes remain that the club may be spared liquidation. After a winding up petition served in October 2016, the club chairman Marc Green made the decision to go into administration as a means of buying time while they attempted to get their financial affairs in order. During this time the RFL (Rugby Football League) terminated their membership, as per the normal rules when a Club enters administration.
The current crisis follows two previous administrations in both 2012 and 2014. At a Bankruptcy and Companies court in London towards the end of last year, tax officials heard that the club owes around £350,000. Club officials, however, estimate the debt at nearer £133,000, claiming more than £100,000 had already been paid.
In a statement published on the club’s official website chairman Marc Green said: “I have been talking to a number of serious investors and purely the pressure from HMRC has forced the club to be put into this position to save its future…There is a dispute between ourselves and HMRC which we have been working hard to resolve since the winding-up petition was issued and despite two adjournments from the courts to resolve this matter we have been unable to do so. We were concerned over the ability to secure a third adjournment and therefore this action became unavoidable to protect the club.”
RFL Could Impose Sanction of up to 12 League Points
Although a number of parties have expressed interest in saving the Bulls since last autumn, none have yet made offers which have met the approval of the company administrators, Northampton-based PBC Business Recovery. The original 12 enquiries was whittled down to four serious contenders, says Gary Pettit of PBC. “Any deal has got to be approved by the creditors and also the RFL before they can consider the question of reinstating the club’s membership,” he said. Pettit is also in regular contact with the RFL, who have the power to impose a sanction of up to 12 league points, in addition to the current termination of the Club’s membership.
A Last Minute Reprieve
Although all discussions between prospective buyers and the administrators are shielded by an NDA, reports this week suggest that attempt to invest in the Club, led by former New Zealand Rugby League chairman Andrew Chalmers was rejected by the joint administrators despite gaining approval from the Rugby Football League. All hopes now rest on another offfer made by an as yet un-named consortium to save the Bullls from liquidation. ‘“I believe that any media speculation about the identity of the consortium members is very unhelpful at this stage,’ commented Gary Pettit. ‘I would ask anyone with the genuine interests of the Bradford Bulls at heart to refrain from any such speculation.’