Bulls appeal to be heard soon

Bradford Bulls are appealing their points deduction

Bradford Bulls are appealing their points deduction

First published in National Sport News © by

Bradford Bulls' appeal against their points deduction will be heard "as soon as possible", the Rugby Football League has said.

The Bulls on Monday formally announced their intention to contest the RFL's decision to dock them six points for going into administration.

Bradford will argue in front of a specially-convened independent sporting sanctions panel that they had no option but to breach the game's insolvency regulations as they faced the threat of a winding-up petition.

A statement from the governing body said: "The RFL can confirm that Bradford Bulls have submitted an appeal against the points deduction handed down by the RFL board of directors as a penalty for entering into administration in January 2014.

"The appeal has been lodged on the grounds that the insolvency event arose solely as a result of force majeure, in that the club's administration occurred in circumstances that were unforeseeable and unavoidable.

"The appeal will be heard by a specially-convened independent sporting sanctions appeal panel chaired by a qualified solicitor or barrister.

"The panel will also feature at least two other members, one of whom must be a fully-qualified insolvency practitioner.

"The panel has the discretionary power to instruct an independent firm of accountants or alternative expert to provide evidence to assist them in deciding whether or not the insolvency event arose as a result of force majeure.

"The panel will hear Bradford's appeal as soon as possible, with details of the time and date to be confirmed in due course."

The RFL says it will be bound by the decision of the panel, which could confirm the deduction of six points, reduce the severity of the penalty or overthrow it.

It is almost seven weeks since the RFL announced the sanction but less than three weeks since Bradford were taken over by Leeds-based businessman Marc Green.

The Bulls are entering into unchartered territory.

Wakefield and Crusaders both accepted their punishment after being docked four points in 2011 for breaching the RFL's insolvency regulations and Bradford similarly accepted their fate after losing six points two years ago.

This time, however, the return of relegation from Super League means there is much more at stake and the Bulls clearly feel they have nothing to lose after being handed the maximum penalty.

The RFL board of directors have some discretion where clubs agree to pay off some of their debt and in this case Green is one of the major creditors, having made a loan of around £150,000 to the club last September.

The RFL also revealed that Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs was owed almost £170,000 when the old company went into administration on January 31.

The RFL's decision to dock the club six points and place the club in special measures on February 25 prompted a walk-out by the consortium given the go-ahead by the administrator to take over the running of the Bulls, with then chairman Mark Moore claiming the move made "relegation almost a certainty".

That did not deter a host of budding new owners - including Mandy Koukash, the wife of Salford chairman Marwan - and Green emerged from a fresh round of bidding as the new buyer on March 26.

Bradford won two of their first three Super League matches to claw back four of the points but have lost their last five to remain on minus two, with the bottom two clubs dropping down to the Championship at the end of the season to make way for a 12-team competition.

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