Eric Perez insists Ottawa still his priority after shock Bradford arrival

Eric Perez has reiterated his long-term involvement in rugby league belongs with Ottawa, not Bradford, after being named as the Bulls’ interim chairman.

In a bizarre twist, even by Bradford’s decade-long drama, the brainchild of Toronto Wolfpack was unveiled as the frontman for the Bulls after the club was taken over by International Rugby League and former RFL CEO Nigel Wood, and Dewsbury chairman Mark Sawyer.

Perez has been the driving force behind the latest Canadian club due to enter the league structure, Ottawa, who will arrive in 2021.

His shock emergence at the Bulls raised questions about the future of the new franchise. However, he insists his role at the Bulls is a short-term thing and that he will not be an investor of the club.

“As you know, we’re not playing in the 2020 season,” Perez said.

“We’ve got all of our plans set and ready for 2021. We were ready for 2020 but some negotiations need to take place with the RFL so it’s been pushed to 2021 because of that.

“In the interim, it’s really easy to name a permanent chair but the club needed taking over immediately. I could do it, so I was asked to do it, so I did it.

“It’s not a permanent position. Ottawa is my club and I will go back to that, but I will leave the Bulls in a better position than I found it. I will allow the transition to work properly and the new chairman will come into something that isn’t a complete mess.”

Perez’s motives for getting involved have also come into question.

When asked what he can gain from the venture, he said: “I discovered rugby league through the Bulls, Bradford is like a second home for me. I want to walk into a league in 2021 with Ottawa, with a showpiece club like Bradford in amazing condition. That’s what I plan to do and I’m here for pure passion of the game.

“Everything I have done is for pure passion of the game. When I started out I said I wanted a Canadian club in Super League, everyone said I was nuts. I didn’t make money for the first six years, so why did I do it? Pure passion.

“I have a different motivation to other people and just the honour of being interim chair of Bradford Bulls is enough. Being able to work with a fanbase like this, helping the club get into a better position, I enjoy doing that. And I get to spend more time in Yorkshire, there’s nothing wrong with that.

“A lot of people are quick to say Bradford is in a terrible situation. But it’s not in administration, it’s been taken over by extremely passionate people and let’s not forgot the club was a bounce off making the play-offs.

“There were some beautiful moments, including the win over Leeds with one million on BBC and over 10,000 in the stand. It’s not having to start at the bottom, it’s already started to bounce up.

“Andrew (Chalmers) took it to a certain level and the new ownership will take it to another level. My job is to help the transition between the new and old ownership and leave the club in the best position for the next chairman when we find that person.”

Meanwhile, Perez was keen to defend Wood, a well-known friend of his, when questioned about his motives for getting involved in the club.

“It’s important to remember it’s not just Nigel, it’s the Wood family.

“Here’s the deal with Nigel, he’s a born and raised, extremely proud Bradfordian who grew up supporting the club and still supports it through thick and thin, through Northern and Bulls, through all iterations and generations since he’s been on this planet.

“They’re the reason he’s passionate about Rugby League and that’s where his heart is. It’s 100% a passion play and the family believe the Bulls are not only on the way up, but will be, one day, challenging for Super League titles again and the glory days will be back. To me, it’s also a really smart business move on their part.

“He can’t be involved day to day as it would be a conflict. He’s put in what he needs to put in, now he’s stepped back and letting people take care of business, that’s why I’m here. It needed someone to step in and he stepped up, I think that’s something that should be applauded.”