Bradford Bulls: Odsal departure confirmed after 1 September to take up Dewsbury tenancy

Bradford boss John Kear
Bradford enjoyed a great afternoon at Odsal when they knocked Leeds out of the Challenge Cup in 2019

Bradford say they will leave their 85-year-old Odsal Stadium home after 1 September, to take up a two-year lease at Dewsbury, although the Rugby Football League must ratify the move.

Chairman Andrew Chalmers blamed the cost of rates, rent and maintenance for the decision in a statement.

The Rugby Football League own the leasehold for the stadium.

Sheffield Eagles will be their last opponents on the date above, if the move receives approval from the RFL.

Chalmers also says the Bulls are in discussions about potential sites for a bespoke new-build stadium in Bradford.

"I believe this decision is firmly in the best long-term interests of the club," Chalmers said on the club website.

"[It] provides financial sustainability, protects the history and legacy of the Bradford Bulls, and allows the Bulls to focus on developing young rugby talent through our Tong high performance academy, under the careful eye of our coaching and development staff.

"The fact that no deal was able to be agreed with the Bradford City Council and the Rugby Football League, isn't a reflection on the hard working efforts of the executive officers of both organisations. But the fact remains as I clearly outlined - that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, wasn't going to happen."

The RFL's statement read: "Bradford's request to use the Tetley's Stadium as a home ground remains subject to the approval of the RFL Board, who are charged with making a decision in the best interests of the sport.

"We have not received an application, and it would be inappropriate for us to comment until we do."

The situation for Bradford

Odsal was once a stadium fit for a Challenge Cup final replay and a crowd of 102,000-plus in the mid-1950s, and even as recently as the mid-1990s a packed-out place to be for the arrival of 'Bullmania' during the early days of Super League.

However, its faded glories have almost tracked those of the team, as a team no longer competing for silverware suffered financial concerns - a £1m shortfall announced and administration followed in 2012, and ultimately liquidation in 2017.

While the Bulls brand was revived with a new club, they were relegated to League One in their opening campaign and then bounced back to the second tier under John Kear.

There were signs of the old Odsal magic in the Challenge Cup this season, when a spirited Bulls defeated off-colour Super League side Leeds in front of 10,258.

Crowds of that nature, particularly in the Championship, have been much lower than that, and there were considerations to move to Valley Parade, home of Bradford City, or Bradford Park Avenue's Horsfall home.

One was too big and required too much overhaul, and the other was seen as too small, but Chalmers sees the 5,000 capacity at Dewsbury as a more sustainable option.

"It is a boutique and intimate rugby league stadium, with an existing capacity of 5,100, and expandable to 8,000 if required," he said.

"Having played there and undertaken significant due diligence, this stadium represents an affordable economic choice for the Bradford Bulls, whilst we work through the task of developing an equally affordable boutique stadium development in Bradford."