By Jamie Woodhouse
Bradford Bulls have re-opened their club shop as they look to re-connect with their fan base ahead of the new Championship season.
The Bulls were liquidated this month after entering administration for a third time, with a phoenix club formed under the same name. The new club will start the season on minus 12 points for entering liquidation.
The club held a sale with merchandise prices slashed, as they look to win back supporters after the turmoil.
Bradford Bulls general manager Stuart Duffy said: “We have to look at having more fan involvement. They are the most important people, without them we don’t have a club.
“I think they have been disregarded in the last couple of years.
“The people who have come in now are really keen to get the club back to where it was. When I first came here in 1988 it was massively involved in the community.”
Full interview with Stuart Duffy
Winger Omari Caro, who has remained with the team from last season, praised the fans for their commitment, saying: “The players went through a tough time in the last few months not knowing what was going on.
“But it wasn’t just us going through that. All the fans would have felt the same pain as us, so to see them all come out and support us in this awful weather is awesome. The boys really appreciate it.”
Caro is also confident that the players can wipe out the 12 point deduction and remain in the Championship, adding: “It’s not ideal but we believe in the quality of the team and the coaching staff to keep us in this league.
“It’s only six games – we are capable of winning more than that.”
Full interview with Omari Caro
Fans responded well to the sale and believed it was the first step in fostering a new relationship between with the club.
Daniel Chapman, 20, from Bradford said: “It’s important for the club to reconnect with its fans, because they have stuck with them through thick and thin.
“The queue for the club shop is really long, so that shows the fans are back on board and hopefully the team can deliver in the upcoming season.”
Damian Smith, 31, from Bradford, called on the club to have better communication with its supporters, saying: “The club has gone through a difficult period and I think communication has been very poor.
“The sale is good, seeing all the people that are here, but it’s important going forward that the club do communicate well to interact with the fans and get them on the terraces, which ultimately pays the bills.”
Elaine Lumb, 52, from Bradford, believed it would not be so easy to undo the damage inflicted on supporters over the past few years, saying: “The fans have lost a lot of confidence with the previous owner and a lot of people now are thinking: Should I buy a season ticket or shouldn’t I?
“At the moment they seem to have their heads screwed on, doing what they need to get the money coming in. The season tickets have been made a lot cheaper so we are hoping now things will improve.
“But they need to get the fans back on board because we have had so many lies over the last few years.”