Sunday’s 20-0 defeat to Featherstone ended Bradford’s Super League ambition for another year but how will a third season in the Championship effect this former Rugby League superpower?
Sunday’s defeat to Featherstone Rovers could perhaps turn out to be one of the most devastating losses in recent history for the Bradford Bulls. In a space of 80 minutes potential games with Leeds and Huddersfield in the middle 8’s turned into profitless ties with the likes of Whitehaven and Oldham in the Championship Shield.
Missing out on the middle 8’s will undoubtably have an impact on the clubs finances. Bradford are a full-time outfit playing in a part-timers division and the failure to finish in the top 4 could potentially lead to a downgrade at the club.
Finishing 5th secured Bradford a measly £275,000. A spot higher would have seen the club earn twice as much plus, a shot at promotion.
We will now have to wait and see whether the club will make any significant cuts to its facilities or the team. There will also be questions surround the teams full-time status and whether it is still affordable.
However, while the short term future is in doubt, the Bradford Bulls academy is strong and gives the fans a reason to be optimistic. Last Saturday the U19’s thrashed the Wakefield Wildcats 48-16 and only a few weeks ago Ethan Ryan signed a new extension to his contract.
The club will hope that Ryan and others will follow in the footsteps of Danny Addy, Tom Olbison, Alex Mellor and Adam O’Brien, who have all become key players at Odsal.
In Rohan Smith, the club has a good manager. The 35 year old joined the club halfway through the season and took them to the edge of the Qualifiers. He now has an opportunity to build from the start and lead his side into the 2017 season.
While the fans reflect on what could have been, the club will certainly be looking ahead and will start work on making the next season their last in the Championship.
By Sebastian Sternik