Wood hails Bulls Odsal return, but work still to do

Bradford Bulls are back at their historic Odsal home after signing an 18-month tenancy agreement with the RFL, who bought the stadium in 2012.

Sunday’s meeting with York was the Bulls’ first match there since the 30-10 Championship win over Sheffield in September 2019, which was seen by more than 7,500.

The capacity at the famous venue, where Bradford first played in 1934, is currently set at 4,000 due to Covid restrictions.

It held a world-record crowd of 102,569 for the 1954 Challenge Cup final replay between Warrington and Halifax.

Odsal was vacated due to rising maintenance costs and a groundshare with Dewsbury at the Tetley’s Stadium, eleven miles away, agreed.

The return is to the end of the 2022 season in the first instance, continuing with the visit of Newcastle on Sunday, although the game against Toulouse in September may have to be played at Dewsbury because of a pre-existing music event.

As work goes on to allow Rugby League to take place alongside stock car racing, the RFL gave dispensation for the games against York and Newcastle to take place on a pitch which is four metres less than the 55-metre minimum width.

Bradford chairman Nigel Wood said: “While the stadium it is not yet exactly as we want it to be, it provides the best opportunity to allow most supporters the chance to view the action in person.

“We would like to express our sincere thanks to our friends York City Knights and Newcastle Thunder for agreeing to play on a slightly narrower pitch than usual while refurbishment work continues.

“We would like to thank all staff, volunteers, businesses and organisations who have helped ‘Bring the Bulls Back to Bradford’.

“We would also thank our temporary landlords and good friends at Dewsbury for their co-operation to date, which we may need to extend for the Toulouse fixture.

“Finally, we like to acknowledge the encouragement of the local authority, Judith Cummins MP and the RFL, who have also been extremely supportive and helpful.

“Odsal is the venue that came back from the dead. We are not blind to its shortcomings. It may be old and it may be basic, but it is our home.

“There is considerable uncertainty still around the sport, matters that we cannot control or even influence, like central distributions and league structures, so we can only commit to an initial 18-month occupancy while these issues get resolved.

“Getting the Bulls back to Bradford is not the end of the journey and we continue to work positively and collaboratively with all organisations who can help, to give the supporters the facilities they deserve in 21st century.”

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