So, where are we?
Well I’ve posted a couple of times on this thread already – haven’t read all of it and have been away from the forum for a while as I’m really not interested in having the same old arguments with the same old people about the same old subjects. However….this absolutely needs discussion, or more accurately I need to vent about this situation.
Firstly, this is by no means the end of the matter. From the cryptic RFL “we are just commenting to say we have no comment regarding a stadium we have a vested interest tweet”, to the promise – apparently – of yet another newly developed stadium in West Yorkshire, and specifically Bradford where undeveloped holes in the ground owned by the Council are something of a speciality. I should also point out, that with a heavy heart, we do need to move away from Odsal, so this isn’t a “we should be staying at all costs” post – from what I’ve seen very few people are suggesting this.
My biggest bugbare – Andrew Chalmers. I wouldn’t trust him as far as I could throw him. I remember posting on here in 2016/17 that what the club needed bare minimum was an open and honest owner because all we’ve had is a barrage of lies – the Pope could have taken over and we wouldn’t have trusted him because we were at the lowest ebb following let down after let down. If you had any sort of sense of the situation, you could see that these fans were hurting.
Yet what do we get? Personally I am struggling to think of a less self-aware person in all my time following RL. Slinging mud to Super League owners whilst we are struggling to get out of the lowest tier the club has ever played in. Stones being lobbed by a bloke in a glass house, not only because we are in League 1, but because his previous attempts at running a club in NZ are hardly covered with glory. His declaration we will be back in the city in 2-4 years – tone deaf to the history of failed developments within the city.
Which brings us to the ultimate question – why on earth is this bloke in charge of our club? He has no money, he’s come from the other side of the world, and he isn’t particularly interested in engaging with fans. And most interestingly of all, he has said the RFL approach HIM in 2016…(!)
So, the first whiff that we might be moving came out a couple of weeks ago? Maybe it’s RL-can’t-plan-ahead-itis, but it simply can’t have occurred to Mr C one day in late July that these costs are prohibitive. So why now – this has probably been in the pipeline for a while – dare I say it since 2016?
A few people on here, and elsewhere have noted 2019 was always going to be an interesting year as this is the year that the Rugby-playing covenant expires within the Odsal lease. It’s also the year that our current rental agreement comes to an end – Chalmers apparently refusing to be tied down for longer than the remaining three year stint when taking over the club which had already been agreed before he got there. Isn’t that a coincidence? It’s also the final year we can be bound by our terms of re-entry into the RFL, such as being obliged to run a reserve team etc.
And to me, it all comes back to the question, why Chalmers? Why did the RFL ask him to apply? Why was he the RFLs preferred bidder? Questions that have never been answered. Perhaps has the case of the former Bulls staff vs the RFL gone to court, the circumstances of what was – to many – a very suspect changing of hands would have come out. For now, it seems there is neither the time, interest or even solid enough evidence for anyone to do any proper investigating which is a crying shame as my gut feeling is there is a huge scandal waiting to be uncovered.
To the RFL – I’ll keep this to their ownership of Odsal only. When they took on ownership, I’m pretty sure they were conned and I do feel for them in this regard. However, it must be said that they have had a huge conflict of interest with regards to the worsening fortunes of the Bulls since that day. I’m not interested in opening up a whole RFL vs Bulls debate again – that said I think their ties to Odsal did have an influence on who took over in 2016, given that i) the club were close to extinction and the RFL could neither afford nor want to pick up the costs usually picked up by the club and ii) They are three years away from unlocking the Odsal site. A cynic might say, they invite a patsy over to keep the club going until that time, at which point they can flog it off to the highest bidder, pay the patsy to go back to NZ and happy days. In fact to partially answer a question why you might move halfway across the world is in 2016, just about the only asset the club had going for it was…Odsal.
Now of course, I may be totally barking up the wrong tree – some stuff I’ve posted fits this narrative (Chalmers general disintrest, flying over from NZ for no apparent reason) and some doesn’t (The RFL’s We’ll decide where you move to actually Tweet).
At this moment in time, there is far too much not in the public domain – understandably – to get a clear enough picture. If we take last night’s statement as gospel, then the RFL must be bricking it – somehow I don’t think they are. Even if it’s a powerplay to get the RFL to take on some of the costs within the lease. Then what? It ain’t getting any cheaper, and Chalmers ain’t getting any richer. We’ll be having these conversations again in five years time.
Some may agree here, some may totally disagree that’s fine. I’m not blaming the RFL for all the Bulls woes here, in fact if you looked purely on the surface we are the most stable we’ve been for a while. However if this has all been built on some big play to get the stadium money then that’s something else entirely.
This could still go one of a few ways – but ultimately I suspect we won’t be playing at Odsal next year (or ever again), there won’t be any new stadium in 2-4 years, and Chalmers won’t be at the helm of the club within that time either. Where that leaves us – aside from in Dewsbury – who knows?
Apologies for the rant.