Bradford Bulls are unlikely to return to Odsal next year.
The club’s chief executive Mark Sawyer confirmed that a return to the famous ground is set to be pushed back because of Covid-19 slowing their progress.
Sawyer had hoped a return to the city could take place in 2021, after the Bulls moved to Dewsbury for the 2020 season after leaving Bradford because of the costs of staying at Odsal.
Whilst reiterating his desire to get the club back to Bradford, Sawyer conceded it is unlikely an Odsal return would be in the works for next year.
“Bradford need to get back into Bradford and it’s no secret that the top of the list would be Odsal,” Sawyer said.
“We were treating it as a definite option for next year if we could come to an agreement with the Council and the RFL and if it was affordable. We were looking at a number of options to bring the ground up to spec; we’d got a list of dilapidations and things to do and we were actively working to see if it was affordable to re-occupy.
“We were trying to see if we could bring people in to occupy Southbank during the week and increase our income streams to make it affordable. The reality is there’s no point coming back in under the terms the last regime left. But we’ve got to get back into Bradford. Covid-19 has just put the handbrake on, but we all know there is no future for Bradford if it isn’t in the city.”
Sawyer admits the costs of returning are still likely to be a challenge to overcome.
“The issues are the running costs and the dilapidation.
“But we have met with the stock car promoter and there’s potentially something to be done there if we do re-occupy. Look, we have to be realistic, it has to be affordable and if it means going in on a multiple use, then that has to be the case.
“The Bulls going back on the same costs is unrealistic and would suffocate the club, but there’s no reason why others using the site when the Bulls wouldn’t be can’t be done. If we can use the facilities more and get the Inland Revenue to review the rent on the site and getting a true rental value, I think a return can be delivered. Pre-Covid I was confident that could be done this year.
“In terms of the dilapidation, we’re having things costed up one thing after another. We’ve spoken to some of our sponsors who are keen to get involved in some of the work that needs doing.
“We’re working with the RFL; we don’t want any costs falling on them and the Bulls that can’t be afforded.
“The costs are obviously substantial, the floodlights is one of the big things and some of the terracing isn’t fit for use. We don’t want to go back in using things that are unsafe.
“There’s a lot of work to be done, there’s no getting away from it, but I think it’s important that Bradford has its own home and though there are negatives with Odsal there are also a lot of positives.”
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