Bradford Bulls extend deadline as they close in on £500,000 target

Bradford Bulls have extended their fundrasing appeal until Easter Monday after falling just short of their £500,000 target.

The 105-year-old club had received £480,000 when the 1130 BST deadline passed on Saturday.

Bulls chairman Peter Hood again appealed to fans to put their hands in their pockets to help the ailing club.

"It has been a humbling experience for all of us, for which we'd like to express our gratitude," he added.

Fans have flocked to show their support after the club announced they must raise £1m to avoid financial meltdown - with the first half needed by mid-April.

An impressive crowd of 20,851 turned out at Odsal to support the Bulls on Friday night as they beat Super League champions and arch-rivals Leeds 12-4.

With the club close to hitting their initial target after only 10 days, Hood said: "I want to applaud all the fans, local businesses and the rugby league community as a whole for their thousands of pledges of support.

"I also want to thank everyone who was at Odsal Stadium last night for their contribution to a wonderful advertisement for Super League.

Bulls' major honours

World Club Championship - 2002, 2004, 2006

Super League champions - 1997, 2001, 2003, 2005

Minor Premiers - 1999, 2001, 2003

Grand Finalists - 1999, 2002, 2004

Challenge Cup winners - 1943-44, 1946-47, 1948-49, 2000, 2003.

"With staff still processing pledges that have come in overnight, and are still coming in this morning, we are within reach of our first goal of £500,000, with the current total approaching £480,000.

"Many people have indicated they have yet to pledge. We have therefore decided to keep the pledge open until midnight on Monday."

The Super League Players' Association (1eagu3) and the All Party Parliamentary RL Group have also written to the Royal Bank of Scotland to ask them to offer Bradford assistance.

The club's troubles came to a head after a decision by RBS to reduce the club's overdraft facility because of the sale of the lease on Odsal, which had been previously used as security on the debt.

A letter to the bank made public by 1eagu3 chief executive officer Ernie Benbow said: "It was with great distress that we read of the RBS decision to reduce the Bradford Bulls' overdraft facility.

"The reduction in this facility places the club in a perilous position which has implications not only for our members but the fan base, the citizens of Bradford and the sport of rugby league.

"If the Bradford Bulls do not survive their current predicament it will affect not only the employment of our members and the other Bulls employees but the very soul of the Bradford community will be ripped out; the Bradford heartbeat will stop."