Latest Bulls takeover rejected
The prospect of a successful resolution to the long-running saga over the future of Bradford was as far away as ever when the Rugby Football League rejected the latest takeover bid.
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The RFL have told the ABC consortium their modified offer made to joint administrator Brendan Guilfoyle for the financially-stricken Stobart Super League club is still unacceptable after it once more came with strings attached.
Both the ABC consortium and a rival group, fronted by former Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe, want a guarantee Bradford will retain their place in Super League in 2013 - as well as the right to buy back from the RFL the lease to Odsal Stadium.
The RFL have always maintained they will not entertain conditional offers and point out Wakefield received no guarantees over their Super League status when they came out of administration 18 months ago.
RFL director of standards and licensing Blake Solly said: "Whilst we are encouraged by the continued interest in purchasing Bradford Bulls, it is disappointing that the ABC consortium are still unable to submit an unconditional offer.
"We have been consistent and clear in that our position is we are unable to consider any offer which comes with strings attached.
"The position with Bradford Bulls is identical to that faced by Widnes Vikings and Wakefield Trinity Wildcats, who were taken out of administration in 2007 and 2011, respectively, by new owners without any guarantee as to which competition they would be playing in.
"All enquirers have been informed that the RFL is only interested in receiving offers for Bradford Bulls which are free from any condition pertaining to competition membership or the re-acquisition of Odsal Stadium.
"The ABC consortium have also been informed that any unconditional offer would also have to be accompanied by a detailed business plan, the identity of all material shareholders and proposed directors and the appropriate proof that the required levels of funding are in place.
"Unfortunately, the ABC consortium have been unable to supply any of the above information, leaving the RFL with no option but to deem the offer unacceptable."
The RFL statement was made after Bradford acting chairman Stephen Coulby called on them to break the deadlock.
Coulby, who returned to the board in May after directors Peter Hood and Andrew Bennett were forced out of office by former chairman Chris Caisley, said the ABC consortium would drop their bid for the club if Bradford were placed in the Championship.
He said: "If the club is at best to be a Championship club for a period of at least two years please let any prospective purchasers know this, so that they can decide whether to proceed with their interest and plan accordingly.
"The continuing uncertainty is impacting not only on potential investors but in particular on the lives and families of the staff and players at the club, who again are in no way responsible for the financial crisis and whose efforts at this time cannot be praised too highly.
"Many of those who lost their jobs have continued to show their unstinting loyalty by working without pay, hoping against hope that the future of the club, whatever that might be, will soon be resolved one way or the other.
"They most certainly do not deserve to be embroiled in the lingering death of the club, which the ongoing uncertainty is only assisting and accelerating at an alarming rate."
Guilfoyle, who has said liquidation would be inevitable if he fails to find a buyer, has offered to extend his deadline if the RFL make money available to satisfy the August wage bill.
The RFL say they are continuing to speak to Guilfoyle about his request.