Back in late August things looked bleak for the Bradford Bulls. They were entrenched in a battle against liquidation and had just made 16 members of staff, including all the first team coaches, redundant.
However on the 1st of September the Bulls were saved by a group led by local businessman, Omar Khan and local MP and former Sports Minister, Gerry Sutcliffe. Since then the new owners have set about righting the wrongs of the previous regime and implementing financial strategies that will secure the future of the Bulls.
Stuart Duffy, Football Manager at the Bulls was one of the 16 staff made redundant and he describes just how close the Bulls came to liquidation: “We came very close to liquidating. There were a few different parties who were interested in taking over but certain requirements had to be met and for one reason or another, those bids didn’t work out. So it came down to OK Bulls, which was Omar Khan’s group and they were basically given 24 hours, by the administrator, to take over or the company would have been liquidated”.
Even though Stuart was made redundant he, along with the majority of the other staff members who had been made redundant, came back to volunteer so that the Bulls could make it to the end of the season: “Mick Potter and the coaching staff said they would go in and coach the team for that game (Widnes at home) and then have a farewell at Odsal on the Sunday. Then I thought well I can’t really let them do that if I’m not doing it because there are certain compliance things I need to do, you know the squad has to be sent in on a certain day and the match details have to be dealt with and somebody has to liaise with the match commissioner. So I said if you’re going to do that then I’ll do that. So we did that, then Mick, Franny and Lee and them (coaching staff) said let’s just carry on here and just basically see how we go. So we did that voluntarily then until the end of the season”.
After all the hardships that people such as Stuart had to endure last season, there is optimism that the new owners can steer the Bulls in the right direction and offer them some financial stability going forward, something that excites Stuart: “They’ve obviously stabilised the ship. They’ve got some good sponsorship deals. They’ve got some big sponsorship deals in and they have certainly made the stadium work harder than it has done before”.
“There certainly seems to be a better atmosphere around the place, it seems to be a buzzy place at the minute. Things are happening and we are looking forward to the new season. We’ve sold plenty of season tickets and people are really coming out the woodwork to support the club”.
There certainly seems to be a new found hopefulness around Odsal Stadium since the new owners took over and the future looks bright for the Bulls.