Bulls reveal Harris fee
Bradford paid over half a million pounds for playmaker
Last Updated: 02/07/12 11:48am
Bradford Bulls paid the Leeds Rhinos £550,000 for Iestyn Harris in 2004
Bradford Bulls have revealed they paid the Leeds Rhinos £550,000 to sign Iestyn Harris in 2004.
Harris left Leeds for rugby union club Cardiff Blues in 2001, although the Headingley Carnegie side retained first option on his signature if he returned to Super League.
Bradford believed Harris could be signed for free as Cardiff had dismissed him, only to establish it was the player's agent who had 'given final notice' without Harris' knowledge, thus activating Leeds' option.
"Both clubs now feel that at the present time the best interests of everyone are served by the full details being revealed, in the light of continued speculation since the actual time of the settlement."
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The settlement figure, which was agreed in 2008, had remained confidential, but has now been revealed to add clarity to the Bulls' current financial plight.
Bradford are just days away from potentially being liquidated, however, Bulls director Stephen Coulby insists the club's board at the time believed the Harris deal was 'affordable' and would not impact their budget going forward.
"Following the restructuring of the club's board in May, it has been our intention if possible to reveal the true facts with regard to the settlement made with Leeds in May 2008 concerning Iestyn Harris," Coulby told the Bradford Telegraph and Argus.
"Discussions have taken place with representatives from Leeds and we are now able to reveal the actual detail.
"At the time of the settlement, both clubs were tied in to a confidentiality agreement. It was, however, made clear in 2008 that settlement had been reached and that chairman Peter Hood had also made an unreserved apology for comments which he had made relating to the Leeds club in January that year and to which they took exception.
"Both clubs now feel that, at the present time, the best interests of everyone are served by the full details being revealed, in the light of continued speculation since the actual time of the settlement.
"Iestyn was signed by Bradford in full knowledge that Leeds had an option to secure his services but that the option could not be enforced unless Iestyn gave notice to terminate his contract with Cardiff RUFC.
"Bradford were told at the time by his solicitor and agent that Iestyn had not terminated his contract with Cardiff but that Cardiff had dismissed him - i.e. that the option could not therefore be enforced - and on that basis the player signed for Bradford, his chosen preference.
"It subsequently transpired that Iestyn's agent had in fact given notice to Cardiff without Iestyn's apparent knowledge, thus triggering the Leeds option.
"The point was reached by 2008 where it was in the interests of both clubs to settle the matter out of court and Bradford agreed, after a number of amicable meetings, to pay Leeds an amount of £550,000, such amount to cover all costs and interest.
"The agreement was for the money to be paid over a period of three years and was so arranged because a new Sky TV contract was about to deliver to the club an additional £200,000 per annum.
"The board at that time, under the guidance of the newly appointed finance director - who was not on the board at the time of the signing - was confident that this was affordable and the club were able to budget going forward without this settlement having any great impact on the business.
"The club's books show that, over a period of three years from 2005-2008, legal costs of £79,032.13 were paid out in connection with this case, making the total cost to the club £629K.
"The costs to the club had, however, been absorbed by the business prior to the settlement being reached, leaving £550K to be covered going forward, and the budget for 2009 was prepared on a break-even position and full salary cap spend after allowing for the first payment to Leeds."