1. ITV Report

Bradford Bulls are given a boost following an announcement from the RFL

Bradford Bulls Photo: Calendar

Bradford Bulls have been given the green light to continue in Super League but coach Mick Potter will not be part of the new-look club.

Uncertainty over the future of the four-times Super League champions was finally ended earlier this week when the takeover by local restaurant owner Omar Khan was ratified by the Rugby Football League.

And the good news continued today when the Bulls were told by the RFL's board of directors they will not be relegated to the part-time Championship and will not have to compete with the leading Championship clubs in a mini-round of licensing.

Instead the new owners have been awarded a 12-month probationary Super League licence, effectively putting them on trial throughout 2013.

Bradford's honorary chairman Gerry Sutcliffe, a former Sports Minister and local MP, welcomed today's announcement.

"It's good news for the fans and for Bradford and now it's all systems go," he said.

"We can start to implement our business plan and sell season tickets." Bradford effectively forfeited their top-flight status in June when, unable to pay the bills after the bank withdrew their overdraft, they went into administration.

That resulted in a six-point deduction, which ultimately cost the Bulls a place in the play-offs, and the threat of liquidation hung over the club right up to the last day of August when Khan announced he had agreed a deal to buy the club from the administrators.

RFL chief executive Nigel Wood said: "The board deliberated long and hard and took into consideration the many views of the sport's various constituents before reaching a decision which we believe is in the best interests of the whole game.

"A probationary licence allows us to closely monitor the performance of Bradford Bulls next season and develop a view on what direction we take in future years.

"The probationary licence also precludes the need for a mini-licensing round, which the overwhelming majority of clubs accept was impractical given the timeframes involved."

The next round of licences are due to be awarded in the summer of 2014 and take effect from the start of the 2015 season.

Today's announcement brings to an end five months of anguish and adversity but it came too late for Potter who, after working unpaid for the last 10 weeks, has decided to return to Australia.

The 48-year-old former Catalan Dragons and St Helens boss opted not to take up the offer of a new contract from the club's new owners and instead recommended his assistant Francis Cummins be appointed as his successor.

That announcement will be made on Monday.

"I was always going to return to Australia and I feel that now is the right time for me to go," Potter said.

"I have enjoyed my time at the Bulls and the supporters and people at the club are second to none.

"I feel, too, that despite circumstances out of our control the team, through the rugby league we played, showed a lot of character in the midst of terrible adversity.

"Omar Khan and Gerry Sutcliffe have come in and rescued the club and were very keen for me to stay for a longer tenure and I made it clear to them that my decision has nothing to do with their purchase of the club.

"It has been the things that have happened over the previous five months that have caused my decision."

Potter, who was Super League Coach of the Year after guiding the Catalans to a third-place finish in 2008, endured a difficult first season at Odsal but his reputation soared after guiding Bradford to the brink of their first play-off spot for four years in the face of adversity.

Khan said: "We are sorry Mick has chosen to leave because we wanted him to stay longer with us after the tremendous job he has done in difficult circumstances.

"He leaves with the best wishes of everyone at the club and we wish him well in the future."

Cummins, who looks set to be handed the job, will be faced with a major rebuilding task, with no fewer than 17 players out of contract, and will be well behind coaches of other Super League clubs who have virtually completed their recruitment for 2013.

Tom Burgess and Olivier Elima have already secured new clubs, Ian Sibbit and Ben Jeffries have announced their departures and Craig Kopczak terminated his contract which had 12 months to run.

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