Bradford Bulls, the club synonymous with the birth of Super League and summer rugby 15 years ago, will be liquidated at the end of next week if they cannot find £1.2m to keep going to the end of the season.
The Bulls went into administration yesterday and the firm in charge of the rescue bid painted a gloomy picture of their prospects.
"If there is anyone interested in buying the Bulls we need to hear from them right now, because this famous club is on the brink of extinction," said Brendan Guilfoyle of the insolvency specialists P&A Partnership. "We now have just 10 working days to save the club, because there is no funding to carry on any longer."
The Bulls went to their supporters with a begging bowl, for £500,000, in order to stay alive last month. Such is the resentment over that now that it is unlikely to work again.
There have been numerous rumours of consortia, including the club's former chairman, Chris Caisley, waiting in the wings. None came forward in time for yesterday's deadline and it is now thought likely that any potential bidder will wait to pick up the pieces from the club's liquidation.
The problem is that by then a number of the key players will have been sold by the administrator, to make a start on balancing the books.
Warrington have a big cash offer on the table for John Bateman, the England Academy captain; his fellow back-rower Elliot Whitehead and others would be attractive prospects for Super League clubs.
When Wakefield spent a week in administration before the 2011 season, they lost three players. They have regrouped under new ownership to be a much better-run club.
Wakefield were docked four points then but the Rugby Football League could impose tougher sanctions on any re-formed Bulls. It could revoke their Super League licence, which was extended for three years from this season despite an inspection of the club's finances.
Among scant crumbs of comfort for the club's fans is the fact that the RFL owns the Odsal ground and is hardly likely to evict what was once its flagship club.Reuse content