Bulls seal Fakir signing
Bradford chairman Marc Green is confident the Bulls can avoid relegation from Super League after unveiling his first signing since gaining control of the club.
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Green, a 48-year-old Leeds businessman, outlined his ambitions to bring back the Bulls' glory days at his first press conference at the Provident Stadium, where French international forward Jamal Fakir was paraded as the first addition to coach Francis Cummins' threadbare squad.
Bradford, who have never been out of the top flight since the advent of Super League in 1996, are currently bottom of the table after having six points docked for going into administration but Green insisted: "Relegation is not something I'm thinking about."
Green is determined to bring back the fans to Odsal, which regularly boasted five-figure crowds in the early days of Super League, and, in the short term, he admits the club are considering appealing against the six-point deduction.
"That is something we will discuss internally and when we've made a decision we'll let you know," he told the press conference.
Green also revealed attempts will be made to reclaim ownership of the ground from the game's governing body, the Rugby Football League, who bought the lease from the club just over two years ago.
"It is important for the longevity of the club, for the future and its survival," Green said.
Green, a life-long Tottenham fan who began watching rugby league when he moved to Yorkshire 20 years ago, found himself propelled into ownership after initially making a loan to Bradford through his company, Leeds-based Safeguard Security, at the height of their financial crisis last autumn.
As a debenture holder, it was Green's decision in January to appoint administrators that averted the threat of the club being wound up by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs and he stepped into the breach when the rescue deal he was attempting to broker collapsed at the last minute.
"I was under the impression that another consortium had taken it but, when that fell through for whatever reason and I was told that my bid was there or thereabouts, I was happy to take up the challenge," he said. "I'm actually happy to be in the box seat."
The new owner has appointed a five-strong board, including managing director Steve Ferres and chief executive Robbie Hunter-Paul, who will handle the day-to-day running of the club.
Green, who has also identified financial and commercial directors to join the board, says his priority is to ensure the club is run as a business.
"The biggest issue with this club is that it's not been run as a business and fundamentally that's exactly what it needs to be," he said. "That's my sole job.
"I am looking for the supporters to return to the club and I will do everything I can with my colleagues to give them the confidence to come back.
"If they meet us on a triangular approach, which is Franny's team delivering on the field and my team delivering off it, that will turn the club around."
More immediately, the 31-year-old Fakir will provide Cummins' squad with much-needed experience after losing front rowers Garreth Carvell and Nick Scruton to Super League rivals Hull and Wakefield during the club's spell in administration.
Fakir, one of three survivors from the Catalans' first season in Super League in 2006, quit the club a month ago after being relegated to the reserves in the wake of their disastrous start to the season.
"As soon as that happened, I wanted Jamal to come here and bolster our pack," Cummins said. "A no-nonsense, go-forward prop is exactly what we need.
"There were a few days where Jamal had to settle down after what happened at Catalan but, after spending a bit of time with his family, he was ready to go again and once I knew that hunger was there, we made a move. I'm really pleased that we've been able to bring someone with international class here.
"Ten years in Super League is huge and he's got that international experience as well. Generally these players don't become available. The good thing is that he's got the bit between his teeth to prove people wrong and we need that sort of energy and determination to make things happen."
Fakir will train with his new team-mates on Friday and will make his debut in Sunday's Tetley's Challenge Cup fourth-round tie against Oldham at Odsal.
"It's a new objective for me," Fakir said. "I am very excited about Sunday."
Cummins, who has been forced to loan players from other clubs over the first two months of the season, is hoping to sign a second prop in the near future.
"It's not an open market," he said. "There might be a few more fall-outs in the next few weeks as players don't get picked. We're looking at anything of quality that makes this team better."