Coach Rohan Smith says he is up for the challenge of restoring the fortunes of a new Bradford club after the former Super League champions were liquidated.
Smith, the son of veteran former NRL mentor Brian Smith, who joined as head coach on a three-year deal last May, was made redundant, along with the entire playing staff, when administrators announced on Tuesday that the Bulls would be liquidated.
Bradford officially ceased trading after the administrators gave up hope of finding a new buyer but the four-time Super League champions will be given the opportunity continue in the Championship, which kicks off in a month’s time, if another club can be formed.
“I would love the opportunity to continue on if the new owners and the new management and I have the same beliefs and can work together,” said Smith, whose father coached Bradford at the start of Super League in 1996.
Instead of starting out in League 1, the lowest tier of the professional game, the Rugby Football League said the Bulls would be allowed to keep their place in the Championship, albeit with a 12-point deduction as punishment for breaching the game’s insolvency regulations.
In a statement, the RFL said: “While a number of alternatives were considered the board were most mindful of the planning already undertaken by all other clubs in the competition structure, the season tickets already purchased and the players and staff who will now be seeking employment in and around the sport in 2017.
“Accordingly the board has agreed that the wider interests of the sport is best satisfied if it offers a place in the Kingstone Press Championship to any new club in Bradford and that such a club start the 2017 season on minus 12 points.”
In addition to their handicap, Bradford would receive the lowest funding of all Championship clubs in 2017, just STG150,000, ($AU 300,000) and are thought to have already lost two players, James Clare and Kris Welham, to Super League clubs.
But Smith remains confident he could assemble a competitive team for the opening league game against against Hull KR on February 5.
“I imagine the vast majority of players would want to stay,” Smith said. “Many have told me today they are not interested in going anywhere else.”
The administrators reported interest from a dozen sources as they sought new buyers and it is thought a number of them are waiting in the wings to help form a new company.