Thursday, 2 August 2012

Superleague Bulls

A solution, of sorts, to the Bradford saga with Super League tabling an offer for the club.

In the absence of another deal in the offing that would satisfy the RFL's criteria, it's difficult to see why this won't go through. The failure of other bids seems to hinge on the interpretation of the word 'unconditional'. Two previous bids seemed to be under the misapprehension that the first syllable was optional.

The move makes sense. The RFL have been acting as ersatz owners for a while now, covering wages and other costs for some months and buying the lease on Odsal Stadium at the start of the year, so formalising that with a Super League - a subtly different organisation to the RFL, but with the same chief executive - buy-out enables them to put the whole thing on a commercial basis rather than month-to-month payments and ever-increasing administrators fees.

Questions arise, as they always will. Firstly, Super League is made up of it's member clubs so there's a potential conflict of interest issue there. What are Super League's intentions? If it's to get things back on an even keel and streamline the failing (failed) business while seeking new buyers, then fine. Even if they run it until the business is turned round and then seek to sell, fine. There are clearly local businesses/businesspeople interested in taking a stake in the club, but on the proviso it remains a Super League club, so if it can be first stabilised and then brought to a position where it will lilely fulfil license criteria, then there's investment to be tapped into. However, if it drags out into a longer-term arrangement, then people will start getting twitchy.

Or should that be twitchier? One valid question is where were Super League during previous insolvency events? What makes this so different and what precedent does it set? One line in the SLE statement says that without this there is "the tangible prospect that we could lose one of our most famous clubs". Are future decisions to be made on the fame of the club involved and does that explain why the clubs weren't willing to save Crusaders? What weighting is there on the fact that the RFL own the lease on the ground and that, were Bradford to fold, they'd be left with a worthless piece of paper?

Questions, questions, questions - that's all this whole saga ever seems to produce. But for the short-to-medium term at least, it looks like we'll still have a Bradford. There's still a lot more to come from this though. This isn't the end.

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