Asian rescue bid tries to curry favour with Bulls

Restaurants may be Bradford's last hope of avoiding liquidation

A chain of Indian restaurants has emerged as a lead player in the fight to save the Bradford Bulls. The club was due to be liquidated yesterday with debts of £1.2m, but the administrator extended the deadline because he is in what he described as "serious discussions" with a consortium of Asian businessmen.

"I'm not pinning all my hopes on this but I don't see too many other options out there," said the administrator, Brendan Guilfoyle. "I believe I've got someone who is very interested in buying the club. What they are concerned about is the level of losses going forward and they are giving it due diligence."

The consortium had a meeting with the administrators that lasted into the early hours of yesterday morning. A further meeting, also involving the Rugby Football League, broke up yesterday afternoon without any announcement of its conclusions. That is likely to come today, after the RFL's board of directors is brought up to date with the situation.

The identities of most members of the consortium remain a mystery, but Akbar's, which runs a number of popular restaurants around Yorkshire and which is a longstanding sponsor of the Bulls, has declared its interest.

"What is being considered is some kind of viable plan to be able to rescue what we consider the heart of Bradford," Akbar's corporate manager, Dill Butt, told a local radio station. "The Bradford Bulls have a long history with the passionate people of Bradford. It would be a shame to let part of the family heirlooms be lost."

One issue over which the consortium is understood to have concerns is the ownership of the club's home ground, Odsal. The RFL bought the stadium earlier this year, giving the Bulls an injection of cash and ensuring that the ground could not be sold in order to pay creditors.

If the Asian bid is the only hat in the ring, there will be great pressure on the administrators to strike a deal. A reported rival bid involving the club's former chairman Chris Caisley does not appear to be on the table.

The Bulls were the most successful club in the early years of Super League, winning four titles between 1997 and 2005. A combination of falling gates and financial miscalculations, however, made them vulnerable. After their bank withdrew their overdraft facility, they went into administration last month.

An appeal to fans earlier in the season yielded £500,000 to keep the club going, but last week Guilfoyle made 16 full-time employees redundant. Those 16, including the head coach, Mick Potter, worked on a voluntary basis on Sunday as the Bulls beat the London Broncos in front of 10,000 supporters. A players' guard of honour applauded Potter and his staff off the pitch in what looked uncomfortably like a farewell gesture.

Bradford have no game this week, because of the Challenge Cup semi-finals, but they are due to face Leeds the following weekend. They have another important date before then, as their players are due to be paid on Friday. The League has sanctioned an advance of funds to the Bulls to enable them to pay those wages, although that can only be a short-term solution.

It seems that only the club's administrator coming to agreement with the city's curry moguls can offer more lasting hope for Bradford's future.

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
scotland decidesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping First Minister up at night?
Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmSo what makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes the hobby look 'dysfunctional', they say
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week