Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Questions the RFL and Bradford need to answer

The more you look at it, the more the situation at Odsal looks a complete and utter mess. The willingness of supporters to chip in and raise the funds is understandable and almost admirable. However, there are some serious questions that need satisfactory answers before any significant amount of money is simply handed over to the existing board.

For Bradford:

What is the value of the club? Given that the major asset - the stadium - no longer belongs to the club, what are the assets and what is the value of those assets?

If an individual came in with a million pounds, what percentage of the club would they own and would they get a seat on the board? If a group of individuals did the same through a Trust arrangement with elected representatives, would they be afforded the same shareholding and board rights? If not, why not? How much would an individual - or organised group of individuals - have to be willing to pay into the club in order to examine the books?

Was it not obvious that no longer owning the stadium would impact on the ability if the club to borrow money?

Why was it necessary to sell the ground? What parts of the operation of the stadium still fall into the club's remit? Did anyone consider the number of insolvencies in football stemming from separation of club and ground?

In January 2012, we were told that the sale of the ground would see the club on a secure financial footing. What changed between January and March? What else is lurking around the corner?

How long has the board known about this? Ten days seems an awfully short time to raise half a million quid. Surely the board must have been aware of this being even a potential problem before that. If so, why wait? Is it a calculated move to panic fans into coughing up without organising together or asking difficult questions?

The sale of Odsal was sold to the public as raising money to sort out a one-off difficulty and all would be fine after the deal was done. That was clearly bunk. Why should anyone believe that another one-off injection of capital will be different this time? Why should anyone believe what the board tell them any more? How can anyone believe that the current board are the best custodians of Bradford Bulls given events of the past six months?

For the RFL:

How were the monies owed that prompted the RFL to buy Odsal accrued? What due diligence was done to verify the claims that this one-off deal would secure the future of Bradford Bulls, at least to be able to fulfil their fixtures for the 2012 season?

What happened to Bradford between the awarding of a Super League license - when they will presumably have had to prove at least their medium-term viability - and the purchase of Odsal?

Wakefield, London, Crusaders and now Bradford have all gone through major financial upheaval in the last couple of years. How are the RFL monitoring the financial position of member clubs? What does this say about licensing? What plans are there to examine the system?

When was the 50% of turnover element of the salary cap removed and what was the rationale behind that? Has that rationale been justified?

This is not an exhaustive list, but it'd be a good starting point to get answers to these.

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