The deal safeguards one of the sport’s most famous grounds and home to Bradford Bulls since 1934, after the recent collapse of plans to create a ‘sporting village’ at the stadium. The stadium has since been subject to a number of predatory approaches, with the purchase by the RFL guaranteeing the future of rugby league at the ground.
Jonathan Riley, partner at Pinsent Masons, legal advisors to Bradford Bulls, comments: “Odsal is part of Bradford’s heartbeat. We’re proud to have helped the Bulls safeguard the stadium’s future for the club, the fans and for the city of Bradford. The RFL’s investment adds considerably to Bradford district’s sporting offer locally, nationally and internationally.”
Odsal is famous for holding the world record attendance for a rugby league game, recorded in the 1954 Challenge Cup final replay between Halifax and Warrington, when 102,569 people squeezed into the terraced ground.
Peter Hood, chairman of Bradford Bulls, adds: “This deal protects the club from the kind of attack which could see someone with little affinity for the Bulls acquiring it and the land for profit.
“That pressure has now been removed, the ground is owned by the RFL and the future of Bradford Bulls is at Odsal where the majority of fans want us. This is excellent news for Bradford Bulls, for the Bradford District and for the sport.”
The RFL already owns the ground of Bradford’s neighbours Keighley Cougars and has stakes in several other stadia.
RFL chairman Richard Lewis comments: “This arrangement is absolutely the right thing to do because it safeguards the future of one of the sport’s most famous stadia. Odsal is famous throughout the world and it would be a tragedy were the venue to be lost to the sport in the way that other evocative rugby league venues have already been lost.
“We have paid market value for the stadium and the Bulls will pay market value rent to the RFL to play their home fixtures at Odsal.”