It’s nearly two years since Provident Personal Credit began what can only be described as an eventful journey with Bradford Bulls!
And whilst being at the forefront of everything we do as main sponsor has been a roller coaster ride for this Sponsorship Manager, I have enjoyed every minute of it and am looking forward to the next three years…
‘Relegation no deterrent as Provident tie up new Bradford Bulls deal’
That was the headline in the local newspaper a few weeks ago – an additional year added to our current agreement, taking us at least until the end of the 2017 season.
We announced our extension at an end of season event which saw 1,000 fans attend – yes, you read that correctly – 1,000 fans at an event for a Club that has just been through a very difficult 12 months which ended in relegation!! That encapsulates why we are not ‘deterred’ and are in it for the long haul on the journey towards seeing Bulls compete at the highest level again.
Championship here we come
Let’s get the negative story out of the way first – relegation.
Since my last blog I have been to a number of games that have given much hope for the future under new Head Coach, Bulls legend James ‘The General’ Lowes.
Whilst Jimmy’s first four games ended in defeat, with the 52-26 reverse at Huddersfield confirming the drop to Championship rugby next year, there were signs straight away of an impending turnaround in performances and ultimately, results.
Tries were still being landed regularly at the wrong end of the pitch; however, the total number of points scored in those four games matched the previous seven.
Then came the pivotal game which began a season best run of four wins and just two defeats – a shock 16-8 win over reigning Super League champions, Wigan Warriors.
A one off, we thought. Wigan on an off-day? The team proved this wasn’t the case when, as far as this Bulls fan is concerned, they pulled off the result of the season – a derby day 20-14 win away to arch rivals Leeds Rhinos! Lee Gaskell was the man of the moment, scoring what proved to be the winning try in the last two minutes sending the huge away following into raptures!!
The season wound down with battling defeats to play-off bound Widnes and Castleford sandwiched by victories against Hull FC and the also relegated London Broncos in an exciting and emotional end of season finalé.
The future’s bright, the future’s ‘Green’
Marc Green, that is.
Whilst the Club’s new owner decided not to pursue a further appeal against the league-imposed six point deduction (see previous blogs) he’s been making great strides towards making the Bulls a force to be reckoned with again on and off the pitch.
New sponsors, new events, new membership packages, a new club shop, and a new commercial team are all helping to give the Club a sound, long term financial footing which in turn helps to fund a rugby team capable of bouncing back into Super League at the first attempt.
Bulls would have been one of the favourites to top the Championship table anyway but that’s only the first hurdle towards a top flight return. The new league structure means it’s not as simple as four up/four down.
A top four placing in the Championship and Bulls would enter a seven game play-off series, The Qualifiers. Finish in the top three of this eight team mini-league and they win the automatic right to play in Super League in 2016. Fourth or fifth and it’s a Grand Final style one-off game for the last spot. This graphic paints the picture perfectly.
The catch? The opposition in the play-offs includes the bottom four Super League teams who have bigger budgets and attract better players.
Green’s Managing Director, Steve Ferres, has assembled a very impressive squad, though – 16 new signings, 13 of which are new faces!!
A number of the new signings were revealed at the same fans’ event we announced our extended sponsorship where the feel good factor was something to behold considering the downward spiral of recent years, which is why…
It’s all about the fans
That’s certainly our motto here at Provident and we like to think we’ve rewarded the incredible Bulls fans for their loyalty and durability. I have encountered nothing but great feedback over the last 12 months for our ‘Supporting Bulls Supporters’ activities of which these are the highlights:
- A Facebook page that has gained over 3,250 likes and continues to grow
- Match day activities (see photo) and giveaways including wet weather ponchos and hot drinks
- Competitions galore to win all sorts – Challenge Cup and Grand Final tickets, match day hospitality, two year season tickets and places at the end of season dinner (transport in a chauffeur driven limo!). But the crème de la crème was…
- …The ’Bulls Bus’ – the all expenses paid, luxury weekend coach trip to the south of France to see Bulls play Catalan Dragons. The winners were a great bunch of people and have remained good friends (see photos)
Roll on the 2015 season
Change of league status doesn’t mean we’ll be letting up in our activities – just ‘Like’ our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/supportingbulls to keep up to date with everything we have planned.
We can’t wait for the 2015 season to kick-off. Fixtures are out in November so look out for my next Bulls blog around about then.