Super League give Bradford 12 month lifeline but coach Potter leaves
15:07 GMT, 14 September 2012
Bradford Bulls have been given the green light to continue in Super League but coach Mick Potter will not be part of the new-look club.
Uncertainty over the future of the four-times Super League champions was finally ended when the takeover by local restaurant owner Omar Khan was ratified by the Rugby Football League.
And the good news continued on Friday when the Bulls were told by the RFL's board of directors they will not be relegated to the part-time Championship and will not have to compete with the leading Championship clubs in a mini-round of licensing.
One more year: Bradford Bulls have been given the go ahead
Instead the new owners have been
awarded a 12-month probationary Super League licence, effectively
putting them on trial throughout 2013.
Bradford's honorary chairman Gerry Sutcliffe, a former Sports Minister and local MP, welcomed the announcement.
'It's good news for the fans and for
Bradford and now it's all systems go,' he said. 'We can start to
implement our business plan and sell season tickets.'
Bradford effectively forfeited their
top-flight status in June when, unable to pay the bills after the bank
withdrew their overdraft, they went into administration.
That resulted in a six-point
deduction, which ultimately cost the Bulls a place in the play-offs, and
the threat of liquidation hung over the club right up to the last day
of August when Khan announced he had agreed a deal to buy the club from
RFL chief executive Nigel Wood said:
'The board deliberated long and hard and took into consideration the
many views of the sport's various constituents before reaching a
decision which we believe is in the best interests of the whole game.
'A probationary licence allows us to
closely monitor the performance of Bradford Bulls next season and
develop a view on what direction we take in future years.
'The probationary licence also
precludes the need for a mini-licensing round, which the overwhelming
majority of clubs accept was impractical given the timeframes involved.'
The next round of licences are due to be awarded in the summer of 2014 and take effect from the start of the 2015 season.
The announcement brings to an end five
months of anguish and adversity but it came too late for Potter who,
after working unpaid for the last 10 weeks, has decided to return to
The 48-year-old former Catalan Dragons
and St Helens boss opted not to take up the offer of a new contract
from the club's new owners and instead recommended his assistant Francis
Cummins be appointed as his successor.
That announcement will be made on Monday.
'I was always going to return to
Australia and I feel that now is the right time for me to go,' Potter
said. 'I have enjoyed my time at the Bulls and the supporters and people
at the club are second to none.
'I feel, too, that despite
circumstances out of our control the team, through the rugby league we
played, showed a lot of character in the midst of terrible adversity.
'Omar Khan and Gerry Sutcliffe have
come in and rescued the club and were very keen for me to stay for a
longer tenure and I made it clear to them that my decision has nothing
to do with their purchase of the club.
'It has been the things that have happened over the previous five months that have caused my decision.'
Potter, who was Super League Coach of
the Year after guiding the Catalans to a third-place finish in 2008,
endured a difficult first season at Odsal but his reputation soared
after guiding Bradford to the brink of their first play-off spot for
four years in the face of adversity.
Khan said: 'We are sorry Mick has
chosen to leave because we wanted him to stay longer with us after the
tremendous job he has done in difficult circumstances.
'He leaves with the best wishes of everyone at the club and we wish him well in the future.'
Cummins, who looks set to be handed
the job, will be faced with a major rebuilding task, with no fewer than
17 players out of contract, and will be well behind coaches of other
Super League clubs who have virtually completed their recruitment for
Tom Burgess and Olivier Elima have
already secured new clubs, Ian Sibbit and Ben Jeffries have announced
their departures and Craig Kopczak terminated his contract which had 12
months to run.