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League Express Upfront: Do the Bulls deserve reduced funding?

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It's worth bearing in mind that the other clubs, or at least a significant number of them, would have been perfectly happy to see Bradford Bulls close down completely last year.

 

They wanted a reduced number of teams in the competition, so that they would get a greater share of the BSkyB broadcasting funds.

 

So for Omar Khan to come along wanting to rescue the Bulls was a little inconvenient for some of the other clubs.

 

So they played hard ball, and asked Khan to prove his credentials by offering to run the club without a full year's funding.

 

...

Just to add or question though, how serious was this idea for SLE to prop up Bradford to see them through 2012 then? That seems a little contradictory if some clubs were happy to see us sink right there and then.

 

Also, Gargoyle stated he'd put the club in liquidation when September came so he didn't have to find money to pay wages, that's why the OK Bulls takeover was rushed through before the Hull FC game.

 

 

As I've said before, we had new levels of help which ckn alluded to (and player ringfencing), and then new levels of punishment the following season. So I just keep my head down, ride out the rough patch and then hopefully be strong enough to start clean, fresh and sparkling in the all new 2015 set-up back to full funding. If we aren't two of the weakest teams next season, then I think there could be a real renaissance at Odsal once we get full money and new league formats.

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I agree with Martyn in some ways, no point having a closed door license system with different funding per club.

 

The main way I disagree is that Bradford had the lead balloon of Odsal's long-term maintenance and upkeep removed and turned into tenants, they received an "undisclosed sum" for Odsal and I believe their rent is confidential.  Until that's all nice and open then I'm not going to waste too much time giving sympathy to Bradford for having reduced funding.  They received a substantial financial boost and long-term stability assistance from the RFL who themselves have very limited budgets.  If Bradford are net current and ongoing beneficiaries from the RFL purchasing Odsal then them losing half of funding for a couple of seasons could turn out to be quite a bargain in the long term.

Not sure what you're on about to be honest mate.

 

Bradford haven't had any 'lead balloon' of maintenance removed, so i don't know where you've got that from. Up to the 'Odsal settlement' in 2000, responsibility for upkeep lay with the freeholder, which is Bfd Met, and from that point on [the year 2000] all maintenance has been the sole responsibility of the club. When the club sold the primary lease [not the ground] to the RFL this did not change. What changed was that the club now pays rent at "commercial rates" to the RFL. The RFL presumably now pay the cheap rent to the council. I can't remember what the Bulls' rent is, though I'm sure I've seen the figure and it's not cheap. Certainly steep enough for Omar Khan to offer to buy back the primary lease last year.

 

I think it should be remembered that the money the club got from the RFL late last season was just their own Sky money, all be it paid a little early.

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It's worth bearing in mind that the other clubs, or at least a significant number of them, would have been perfectly happy to see Bradford Bulls close down completely last year.

 

They wanted a reduced number of teams in the competition, so that they would get a greater share of the BSkyB broadcasting funds.

 

So for Omar Khan to come along wanting to rescue the Bulls was a little inconvenient for some of the other clubs.

 

So they played hard ball, and asked Khan to prove his credentials by offering to run the club without a full year's funding.

 

I'm not sure whether Khan and Gerry Sutcliffe were aware that the other clubs would simply pocket that cash when they agreed to the deal, although they appear to suggest that they didn't know.

 

It reminds me of the situation when Gateshead Thunder were created in 1999, and received reduced funding compared to the other clubs at that time. It was almost designed to end in tears, and a lot of very good work in the northeast was thrown down the drain, with many new supporters being totally alienated by how it ended.

 

In my view all the Super League clubs should be on a level playing field in terms of the income they receive from the central distribution. Anything else is short-sighted, and is asking for trouble.

 

Whether a club should be in Super League after going into administration is a different but related issue.

 

But then the whole story of how and why the Bulls went into administration is yet to be told.

 

Which are the clubs that were keen to see Bradford fold Martyn?

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Not sure what you're on about to be honest mate.

 

Bradford haven't had any 'lead balloon' of maintenance removed, so i don't know where you've got that from. Up to the 'Odsal settlement' in 2000, responsibility for upkeep lay with the freeholder, which is Bfd Met, and from that point on [the year 2000] all maintenance has been the sole responsibility of the club. When the club sold the primary lease [not the ground] to the RFL this did not change. What changed was that the club now pays rent at "commercial rates" to the RFL. The RFL presumably now pay the cheap rent to the council. I can't remember what the Bulls' rent is, though I'm sure I've seen the figure and it's not cheap. Certainly steep enough for Omar Khan to offer to buy back the primary lease last year.

 

I think it should be remembered that the money the club got from the RFL late last season was just their own Sky money, all be it paid a little early.

I'll take your word for it but I understood it to be that the RFL took full ownership by buying out the freehold from the council (meaning no rent to the council at all) in order to stop the council selling it on to another third party and also paying Bradford an "undisclosed fee" to break their peppercorn rent lease in the ground.  I also understood that the RFL as the primary owners were responsible for the structural maintenance and upkeep as you'd get in any other landlord/tenant commercial agreement with "market rent".

 

If I'm wrong then I'm happy to be shown as wrong.

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Which are the clubs that were keen to see Bradford fold Martyn?

All the clubs that believed they needed the dosh. Which is most of them.

 

As we've seen in the more recent discussions about the league re-structure, the offer of more money tends to make clubs vote in predictable ways.

 

The Bulls did have Leeds and Wigan in their corner, however, and of course they had the RFL, which didn't want to lose the value of the asset it had acquired in Odsal.

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I'll take your word for it but I understood it to be that the RFL took full ownership by buying out the freehold from the council (meaning no rent to the council at all) in order to stop the council selling it on to another third party and also paying Bradford an "undisclosed fee" to break their peppercorn rent lease in the ground.  I also understood that the RFL as the primary owners were responsible for the structural maintenance and upkeep as you'd get in any other landlord/tenant commercial agreement with "market rent".

 

If I'm wrong then I'm happy to be shown as wrong.

http://www1.skysports.com/speedway/news/12268/8649226/

 

"The freehold is leased by Bradford MBC but when the Rugby League club hit problems this was taken on by the Rugby Football League Council. We would need their approval but we cannot discuss the matter further with them until we have planning confirmed.

Not entirely sure what that means, but another article says they bought the freehold

http://www.loverugbyleague.com/news_11701-rfl-surprise-at-odsal-speedway-plans.html

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I understood at the time that the RFL was buying the freehold as it would permanently stop any predatory approaches for the stadium and land.  What would be the point in the RFL simply taking over the lease if it didn't solve the issue of the council being able to sell up at any time to a developer.

 

edit: you can submit a planning application on any land in the UK, you don't have to own it but if it's granted then the owner can take advantage of that permission without having to discuss it with you.

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I'll take your word for it but I understood it to be that the RFL took full ownership by buying out the freehold from the council (meaning no rent to the council at all) in order to stop the council selling it on to another third party and also paying Bradford an "undisclosed fee" to break their peppercorn rent lease in the ground.  I also understood that the RFL as the primary owners were responsible for the structural maintenance and upkeep as you'd get in any other landlord/tenant commercial agreement with "market rent".

 

If I'm wrong then I'm happy to be shown as wrong.

As things stand, Bfd Met are the owners, the RFL are the primary leaseholders and the Bulls have a secondary lease from the RFL.

 

I think you may be being confused with what happened in 2000,  with the "Odsal settlement",  which came up after the 'superdome' project fell through and the Bulls returned fom Valley Parade. Up to that time the Bulls had a lease under which the council were responsible for maintenance and also took bar profits and anything made from ground advertising and any other uses like speedway for example were all extra money for the council.

 

The new lease [the current primary lease now held by the RFL] after the 'settlement' was for 150 years. Under that lease the club took over maintenance [for which they were given a large sum, and I'm talking a few £millions, in compensation for the remainder of the old lease, under which it was the council's responsibility ] and also got the bars, advertising and the rental for other uses [sublets] and had to pay a small rent to the council. Though the money intended for upkeep is long gone [spent buying success in the noughties] all the other conditions of the lease remain under the secondary lease from the RFL.

 

As primary lease holders I assume the RFL pay the small rent to Bfd Met.

 

I don't think there ever was any question of the council selling the freehold, I think the problem with the ground was with what might happen if someone were to come in and buy out the club in order to grab the 150 year lease on the ground [or 'construction site' as it may well have very quickly become]. The club has been in some kind of financial difficulty ever since the 'settlement' money ran out in the mid noughties - hence the selling and downscaling that went on at the time, so it's a long way from being a far fetched notion, and much as I know absolutely nothing in particular, it would seem that those in charge at the time were worried enough to convince the RFL to buy the lease, so it sounds a little like there were strong rumours floating around.

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The article is incorrect, though I guess it's an easy mistake to make. The RFL have never claimed to have the freehold and the journo concerned really should check his facts.

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Thanks for that. The strange thing is the language around it. Even the Bulls' lawyers called it a purchase of the stadium and a buy and leaseback.

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It's worth bearing in mind that the other clubs, or at least a significant number of them, would have been perfectly happy to see Bradford Bulls close down completely last year.

 

They wanted a reduced number of teams in the competition, so that they would get a greater share of the BSkyB broadcasting funds.

 

So for Omar Khan to come along wanting to rescue the Bulls was a little inconvenient for some of the other clubs.

 

So they played hard ball, and asked Khan to prove his credentials by offering to run the club without a full year's funding.

 

I'm not sure whether Khan and Gerry Sutcliffe were aware that the other clubs would simply pocket that cash when they agreed to the deal, although they appear to suggest that they didn't know.

 

It reminds me of the situation when Gateshead Thunder were created in 1999, and received reduced funding compared to the other clubs at that time. It was almost designed to end in tears, and a lot of very good work in the northeast was thrown down the drain, with many new supporters being totally alienated by how it ended.

 

In my view all the Super League clubs should be on a level playing field in terms of the income they receive from the central distribution. Anything else is short-sighted, and is asking for trouble.

 

Whether a club should be in Super League after going into administration is a different but related issue.

 

But then the whole story of how and why the Bulls went into administration is yet to be told.

I agree with this.

I said at the time,(and it's on here so can be verified) that I would rather be relegated and genuinely start again, rather than limp along with half funding. If they wanted to boot them out, then do it but lets not have a ridiculous situation we have of the club effectively being fined £1.2 Million -an astronomical amount for a RL club - and trying to fight the fight with one hand tied behind it's back. This is not just because I happen to be a Bulls fan, I would say the same regardless of what team it was.

I seriously doubt there is anyone else out there going to put much money into Bradford, so chances are it's just a stay of execution and things will go pear shaped sooner or later. What use will the extra money be to the clubs then?

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As things stand, Bfd Met are the owners, the RFL are the primary leaseholders and the Bulls have a secondary lease from the RFL.

 

I think you may be being confused with what happened in 2000,  with the "Odsal settlement",  which came up after the 'superdome' project fell through and the Bulls returned fom Valley Parade. Up to that time the Bulls had a lease under which the council were responsible for maintenance and also took bar profits and anything made from ground advertising and any other uses like speedway for example were all extra money for the council.

 

The new lease [the current primary lease now held by the RFL] after the 'settlement' was for 150 years. Under that lease the club took over maintenance [for which they were given a large sum, and I'm talking a few £millions, in compensation for the remainder of the old lease, under which it was the council's responsibility ] and also got the bars, advertising and the rental for other uses [sublets] and had to pay a small rent to the council. Though the money intended for upkeep is long gone [spent buying success in the noughties] all the other conditions of the lease remain under the secondary lease from the RFL.

 

As primary lease holders I assume the RFL pay the small rent to Bfd Met.

 

I don't think there ever was any question of the council selling the freehold, I think the problem with the ground was with what might happen if someone were to come in and buy out the club in order to grab the 150 year lease on the ground [or 'construction site' as it may well have very quickly become]. The club has been in some kind of financial difficulty ever since the 'settlement' money ran out in the mid noughties - hence the selling and downscaling that went on at the time, so it's a long way from being a far fetched notion, and much as I know absolutely nothing in particular, it would seem that those in charge at the time were worried enough to convince the RFL to buy the lease, so it sounds a little like there were strong rumours floating around.

 

That's how I read it at the time too. The RFL secured the stadium in case the Bulls went belly up.

 

If they had gone belly up, a new club would have been formed and they would have played out of Odsal. Bradford is a city that can support a RL club at the top level and someone would have created a new company and a new club to fill the void left by the Bulls, but that would have been a lot harder without Odsal as somewhere to play. Top class RL in Bradford is a lot more secure with the RFL holding control of Odsal for the next 100 years or so.

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All the clubs that believed they needed the dosh. Which is most of them.

 

As we've seen in the more recent discussions about the league re-structure, the offer of more money tends to make clubs vote in predictable ways.

 

The Bulls did have Leeds and Wigan in their corner, however, and of course they had the RFL, which didn't want to lose the value of the asset it had acquired in Odsal.

 

Agree that the owners of most clubs think very short-term when it comes to money, but I'm surprised that every club except Wigan & Leeds wanted Bradford to fold, so that they could get a share of their central funding for two years.

 

What was it that eventually persuaded the other 11 clubs that it was in their interests if Bradford didn't fold? Was it the RFL, Wigan or Leeds who persuaded them?

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I understood at the time that the RFL was buying the freehold as it would permanently stop any predatory approaches for the stadium and land.  What would be the point in the RFL simply taking over the lease if it didn't solve the issue of the council being able to sell up at any time to a developer.

I believe the issue and the vultures comment, was related to a organisation buying the Bulls and asset stripping (moving them to Valley Parade) in order to get the land.

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Agree that the owners of most clubs think very short-term when it comes to money, but I'm surprised that every club except Wigan & Leeds wanted Bradford to fold, so that they could get a share of their central funding for two years.

 

What was it that eventually persuaded the other 11 clubs that it was in their interests if Bradford didn't fold? Was it the RFL, Wigan or Leeds who persuaded them?

I've not said that every club wanted them to fold. I'm sure none of them did, but the possible redistribution of the sponsorship money made them prepared to countenance it.

 

The number of clubs in Super League is determined by the clubs. At the time the number had been determined as 14. Therefore, to throw Bradford out would have required one or more clubs to propose 13 clubs in Super League for 2013. As far as I'm aware, no one went that far, but the deal they came up with was a compromise that put some money into their pockets without them having to turn Bradford down.

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I've not said that every club wanted them to fold. I'm sure none of them did, but the possible redistribution of the sponsorship money made them prepared to countenance it.

 

The number of clubs in Super League is determined by the clubs. At the time the number had been determined as 14. Therefore, to throw Bradford out would have required one or more clubs to propose 13 clubs in Super League for 2013. As far as I'm aware, no one went that far, but the deal they came up with was a compromise that put some money into their pockets without them having to turn Bradford down.

 

Ah sorry Martyn. I thought from your original post where you said "It's worth bearing in mind that the other clubs, or at least a significant number of them, would have been perfectly happy to see Bradford Bulls close down completely last year." and then followed that up by saying Leeds & Wigan were not among those clubs, that you perhaps had some intelligence from people involved in those discussions that the other clubs actually would have been happy to see the Bulls close.

 

It looks as though you are making an educated guess based on the fact that most SL clubs are desperate for money; don't usually give the impression they care about anything but their own short-term interests; and the number of clubs will in fact be reduced in 2015. I'm not saying you're wrong, I just wondered if it was based on fact or assumption.

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Ah sorry Martyn. I thought from your original post where you said "It's worth bearing in mind that the other clubs, or at least a significant number of them, would have been perfectly happy to see Bradford Bulls close down completely last year." and then followed that up by saying Leeds & Wigan were not among those clubs, that you perhaps had some intelligence from people involved in those discussions that the other clubs actually would have been happy to see the Bulls close.

 

It looks as though you are making an educated guess based on the fact that most SL clubs are desperate for money; don't usually give the impression they care about anything but their own short-term interests; and the number of clubs will in fact be reduced in 2015. I'm not saying you're wrong, I just wondered if it was based on fact or assumption.

Several clubs have told me privately that, if it had come to a vote, they would have been prepared to see Bradford excluded from Super League.

 

I can't speak for every club, but if it had been a voting issue it would have been a close call.

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Why did you highlight Leeds and Wigan Martyn? That almost suggests that all the others took a different view. This doesnt seem likely when you consider that Widnes, Wire and Hudds for example all helped Bulls financially.

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