Legendary Bradford Bulls forward Stuart Fielden says the IMG proposals could turn out to be a major positive for his former club.
Fielden had a trophy-laden spell at Odsal in the late nineties and early noughties as ‘Bullmania’ took Super League by storm as Bradford became the competition’s dominant team.
But that all unravelled quickly and as players such as Fielden moved on, the Bulls were relegated from Super League in 2014, less than eight years after they were World Club Champions.
Financial difficulties then saw the club go into liquidation in 2017, before being resurrected, and now the Bulls find themselves struggling around the middle of the Championship.
However, IMG’s recent proposals to overhaul rugby league and scrap promotion and relegation in favour of a grading system could offer a lifeline to the former Super League champions.
A new 25,000-capacity stadium has been proposed by Bradford Council on the Odsal site, to underline the club’s intent, and former great Fielden believes Super League needs Bradford to return.
“Super League is at its strongest when there is a Bradford team in it,” Fielden told Serious About Rugby League. “You need cities in Super League and Bradford is a big one with a historical team.
“There is a massive fan base there and a strong Super League needs a strong Bradford team. If the IMG proposals help them get back up there then that can only be positive.”
Despite highlighting the positives for the proposed changes could mean for Bradford, Fielden is also cautious about the financial improvements the club needs to make to start mixing it with the big boys again.
“There is still a gulf there though,” said Fielden. “Those teams in the bottom half of Super League would probably still give Bradford a hiding so there is work to do.
“They have to make up that gap in money and build up financially too to close that and make up that difference to become a top team again.
“The honest part is that if you want the best players you have to be able to pay them. The big teams have the best players in Super League and Bradford have to try get back to that.“