Bradford Bulls were last night celebrating the deal that promises to rescue one of Super League's most successful clubs from liquidation.
Local restaurateur Omar Khan announced yesterday that his consortium, which also includes the Bradford South MP Gerry Sutcliffe, had agreed terms with the administrator, Brendan Guilfoyle, for the ownership of the club, before the players' wages for this month are due.
Khan, a long-term Bulls fan, is understood to have paid as little as £150,000 for the club, which has been in administration since June, but with a commitment to spend far more than that on restoring the Bulls' fortunes and upgrading Odsal Stadium as an all-purpose sports venue.
The news was confirmed at the Bulls' home game against Hull last night. The reaction of the fans who have stuck with them through the crisis suggests this is a more popular outcome than being owned by one of the city's other sporting institutions, Bradford City or Bradford Park Avenue. Super League itself made a bid to safeguard the club's future.
The coach, Mick Potter (above), who has guided the team to an impressive series of victories, also welcomed the apparent resolution. But the Rugby League sounded a note of caution. The RFL's director of standards and licensing Blake Solly said: "Whilst it is entirely understandable that Mr Khan has been keen to announce his purchase of Bradford Bulls from the administrator, he is aware we cannot formally grant membership until we have had sight of information which his bankers will supply on Monday or Tuesday. We do not anticipate any major problems."
The RFL's board will decide next week whether to admit the new club to membership of the League. The question of which level they will play at – Super League or the semi-professional Championship – will be considered after that.
Ironically, Bradford reserved their worst display of the season for the night that marked their salvation, losing 70-6 to Hull and doing untold damage to their play-off prospects.