Two sports. Two clubs. Two similar stories. Two different endings.
Bradford Bulls and Portsmouth FC are two clubs who have both experienced what life is like with severe financial troubles.
Portsmouth experienced two administration periods and a winding up order between February 2010 and April 2013, and Bradford Bulls were placed in administration three times and also a winding up order between March 2012 and January 2017 which included £1 million of fan raised money disappearing as the club needed saving the first time around. However, unlike Portsmouth, the Bulls have been liquidated rather than be saved be a supporter’s trust.
This is why I question the processes that rugby leagues governing body the Rugby Football League goes through in finding suitable owners for clubs, when the Football Association managed to save Portsmouth despite many new owners making the financial situation worse.
January 3rd is day etched in the memory for all Portsmouth fans and also a day that will remembered by Bradford supporters for years to come. However, this date marked a turning point in the life of Pompey where as it ended the life of Bradford Bulls as we know it.
The FA allowed the Portsmouth Supporter’s Trust to takeover at Fratton Park whereas the RFL rejected bids from two parties to save the club.
I just don’t understand is how a Supporter’s Trust can raise approximately £2.5 million to save a League Two football club and pass the FA’s Owners’ and Directors’ test but bids from businessmen Richard Lamb, Marc Lawn and other consortium bids were rejected when I suspect less than £2.5M was needed to save the club.
I am a bigger rugby league fan than I am a football fan but I have to say, the way the FA have saved clubs such as Portsmouth, Crystal Palace and Southampton is extremely professional where as the RFL have been, in the words of Lamb, amateurish, and have lost clubs such as Celtic Crusaders and Paris Saint-Germain when these clubs could have been easily saved and expanded the sport earlier and faster than it has done.
Overall, I am disappointed in the RFL who have just about saved Bradford Bulls, despite them now agreeing a deal with former New Zealand Rugby League chairman Andrew Chalmers and ex-Wigan coach Graham Lowe to become the new owners of the Bradford club which replace the much beloved Bulls.
I hope, along with many die hard Bradford fans that Chalmers and Lowe can bring the new Bradford club the same glories as the Bulls achieve, just as Portsmouth fans hope that the Fratton Park club can become one of England’s top clubs once more, in terms of league position.