Craig Farrell’s Column - Bulls look for £1m to save future

Heritage Officers Martin Bass (left) and John Downes look out at Bradford Bulls Rugby ground, Odsal Stadium, Bradford. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday March 27, 2012. Bradford will be forced to enter administration if they fail to raise the �1million they say they need to rescue the cash-strapped Stobart Super League club. The Bulls today revealed they have run out of money and have warned they need to reach at least half their target in the next 10 days in order to keep the club afloat. See PA story RUGBYL Bradford. Photo credit should read: Dave Thompson/PA Wire. Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.

Heritage Officers Martin Bass (left) and John Downes look out at Bradford Bulls Rugby ground, Odsal Stadium, Bradford. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday March 27, 2012. Bradford will be forced to enter administration if they fail to raise the �1million they say they need to rescue the cash-strapped Stobart Super League club. The Bulls today revealed they have run out of money and have warned they need to reach at least half their target in the next 10 days in order to keep the club afloat. See PA story RUGBYL Bradford. Photo credit should read: Dave Thompson/PA Wire. Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.

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Incredible news broke this week that Bradford Bulls may go out of business if they fail to find £1million, half of which is required by next Friday.

Bulls’ Chairman Peter Hood was quoted in the Bradford Telegraph and Argus as saying “If we haven’t got cash then we can’t stay alive and if we can’t stay alive then we can’t fulfil our fixtures. It’s that serious.”

In light of their dire financial predicament the Bulls have turned to their fans to help raise the cash needed to survive and have asked their supporters to pledge £100 each to ease the financial burden currently being saddled by the Odsal outfit.

“It’s not an exaggeration to say this is a crisis,” added Bulls’ chief executive Ryan Duckett.

The Bulls have held a precarious financial position for several seasons now, due, in no small part to the undisclosed compensation package they agreed with Leeds Rhinos for their former player, Iestyn Harris.

That transfer wrangle, coupled with an under-performing team in recent seasons has seen the Bulls record increasing losses in recent years, and led to the club striking a deal in January to sell their Odsal home to the RFL in order to, it was thought, sustain their long-term future.

However, the Bulls now find themselves in this current predicament due to their bank, The Royal Bank of Scotland, reducing their overdraft facility, bringing matters to a head, somewhat abruptly.

The Bulls last won a Grand Final a mere seven years ago and were one of the top forces in the game for almost a decade before that time.

They were at the forefront of the game’s rebranding to Super League, spearheaded by their ‘Bullmania’ movement, embracing wholeheartedly the razzmatazz of the new era of rugby league, incorporating music, pyrotechnics and cheerleaders, giving the game a modern edge.

They were the best supported team in the league and the model on which each Super League team would base their future plan to attract new, young supporters.

The fact that they are now facing the very real prospect of extinction is a tragedy for the game, and one which holds even more significance for me personally, as it was against the Bulls I made my (forgetful) Super League debut, on the receiving end of a 56-6 drubbing.

My over-riding memories of which consist of Nathan McAvoy running over me twice to score, and clinging gamely for dear life to one of Paul Anderson’s colossal thighs as he ploughed 30 metres with me, Andy Last and Tony Grimaldi all hanging to him, in front of 16,000 fans and a live TV audience. How embarrassing.

I genuinely hope the Bulls find the means to survive and progress, they have the potential and the capacity to be a fantastically supported team and Super League just wouldn’t be the same without them.

Finally this week, I’d like to take the opportunity to ask my readers to support a superb cause being championed by our local rugby league club, the Scarborough Pirates.

On Sunday April 1 (no, this is not a joke) Scarborough Pirates players are embarking upon a ‘Cask Carry’ challenge to raise money for Ellie’s Fund.

The players involved intend to carry nine gallon casks full of water (not beer) around Albert Drive and Marine Drive in teams of four, in order to raise as much money as possible for the charity set up in the memory of Ellie Othick-Bowmaker, who tragically passed away at the age of 14, a little over two years ago, after a three-year fight against two brain tumours.

To support Scarborough Pirates’ challenge please go to www.charitygiving.co.uk/scarboroughpirates and pledge as much or as little money as you can. Your donation, however small, will make a huge difference.

Thank you.