Six-point penalty for Bulls
Bradford coach Mick Potter says his team will continue to battle against the odds as they look to claw back the six points deducted by the Rugby Football League.
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The Bulls dropped out of the play-off positions after the RFL's board of directors removed the points gained from three of their 11 wins in Stobart Super League so far this season as a result of the club going into administration.
Potter admitted the announcement came as no surprise but insisted it was "a kick in the stomach" for his players, who have defied massive uncertainty over their future to win three of their last four matches to raise hopes of a top-eight finish.
"It's disappointing," said Potter, who is working on a voluntary basis after being among 16 full-time staff made redundant by administrator Brendan Guilfoyle last month.
"It's no surprise. We understood that's what happens when you go into administration, it's part of the process for this type of thing.
"But it's a massive kick in the stomach for the players, who have done all they possibly could to get results, and also the fans, who have done over and above what they had to do.
"It's just disappointing, sitting on the sidelines waiting for your punishment, especially when you've not instigated any of it."
The punishment takes immediate effect and drops the Bulls out of the play-off positions, from seventh to ninth, ahead of Sunday's trip to second-placed Warrington.
Bradford still have to play Huddersfield and Hull KR, the two clubs to benefit from their points deduction, in the run-in so their fate remains in their own hands but Potter insists the punishment is a body blow to their play-off hopes.
"It makes it hard, if not close to impossible, to make the play-offs," he said.
"That might be a slight exaggeration but it's going to be tough. We've got some hard games coming up, finishing up with Catalan away.
"The players have been great, they've been doing everything they can to get the two points every week, and hopefully that will continue.
"They're riding that rollercoaster at the moment but I can't fault their efforts on the field."
Bradford received the maximum penalty laid down in the RFL's operational rules.
The RFL board of directors exercised some flexibility by docking Wakefield and Crusaders four points when they entered administration on the eve of the 2011 season after taking into account the new owners' willingness to pay off some of the debts to creditors.
"We expected a deduction of points by the RFL and of course we accept that penalty," said Bradford's interim chief executive Gary Tasker.
"We are not yet in a position to be able to offer any recompense to our creditors and, as such, a six-point deduction was what we expected.
"We are still in the competition and a place in the top-eight - and with it the ability to make the play-offs - is still within our grasp and we will be travelling to Warrington on Sunday in a confident and determined mood."
Although Guilfoyle has found a potential buyer, any deal is some way off being completed.
He yesterday passed on details of a formal, written offer from the ABC consortium, a group of local Asian businessmen, to the RFL but it is conditional on them being able to buy back the lease to Odsal Stadium and receiving a guarantee on the Bulls remaining in Super League.
He has until this Friday to avoid putting the club into liquidation, although he has the option of a further extension of the deadline if he feels he can complete a deal.