With the news that Bradford Bulls are leaving the City, Bradford (Park Avenue) owner Gareth Roberts has vowed to keep his offer open to still host the Rugby League team at Horsfall stadium if a deal can still be struck – but only for a limited period of time.
Roberts has publicly backed the idea of the Bulls remaining in Bradford and was involved in advanced talks about ground sharing. However after today’s announcement he admitted his ‘disappointment’ for Bulls supporters and the City in general that the club would be leaving Odsal after nearly 90 years of playing at the stadium.
Roberts said, “I think the move is a crying shame for both Bulls supporters and the sport loving community of Bradford. I respect the Bulls’ decision because running a professional sports club is expensive, but we believed we offered a viable alternative. This is a sad day for Bradford but we will keep the option for them to ground share with us open as long as we can. After that we’ll look to set up a new professional club to keep Rugby League alive and well in a BD postcode. If that happens we’ll continue with our commitment to making Bradford a ‘Sporting City’!
“In my lifetime I have seen Bradford go from a truly great City of sport with two professional football teams, a first class county cricket ground and a Rugby League team that were once World Club Champions, to a place that is clinging onto its sporting heritage.
“We applaud Bradford City for what they have achieved in recent years but the Bulls leaving means Bradfordians have slim pickings if they want to watch professional sport.”
For a while, both Park Avenue and the Bulls had forged close links and even experimented with numerous cost saving operational exercises over the last year.
Avenue are close to obtaining a 35-year lease on Horsfall playing fields from the council and already are well underway with planned improvements in the stadium. The Bulls’ decision to move to play in Dewsbury will leave a vacuum that Roberts believes can be filled and confirmed that conversations have already been had about setting up a new Rugby League club.
Further details of the new club and membership will be announced in due course.