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RFL defend making Bradford decision

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 19/01/2017 Ian Laybourn

England's Rugby Football League admits keeping the beleaguered Bradford Bulls in the 2017 Kingstone Press Championship is the "least worst option".

The governing body has given the go-ahead for the reformed Bulls to continue under New Zealand ownership in the second tier of the professional game rather than starting at the bottom in League One.

Andrew Chalmers, a former chairman of New Zealand Rugby League, and ex-Wigan, Manly and Kiwis coach Graham Lowe have set up a new company to run the club and are expected to make a series of key announcements on Friday afternoon.

The RFL has come under fire for its handling of the long-running saga but chief executive Nigel Wood and chief operating officer Ralph Rimmer says the New Zealand duo offer the best option for the future of the Bradford club.

"This was the most convincing bid," said Wood of the Chalmers offer.

"There were at least two other groups who couldn't move quick enough but we are very happy to work with the new owners."

Rimmer said the RFL had undertaken due diligence on the new owners and revealed that Chalmers broke off a holiday in New Caledonia to fly over to set up the new club and intends to take up residency in the UK.

"A rugby league experience was a big part of the decision," he said. "There is some capital investment as well but they have got a rugby league understanding which was more compelling than anybody else in the race."

The new club will start the season - the first game is at Hull KR on February 5 - on minus 12 points and will receive a central funding of just STG150,000 ($NZ257,835), as opposed to the STG270,000 they were due before liquidation.

Rimmer admitted the possibility of promoting newcomers Toronto Wolfpack, who have a full-time squad in training for the start of their inaugural League 1 campaign, was considered but ruled impractical.

Former Hull KR stand-off Dane Chisholm is the latest player to leave the old club, having confirmed the news on social media, and he left with a parting shot, describing the way the players have been treated as "absolutely appalling".

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