The long-running saga over the future of beleaguered Bradford Bulls took a dramatic twist on Thursday when Super League bosses offered to take over the club.
The offer to buy the Bulls has been submitted to the administrator by Super League chief executive Nigel Wood on behalf of the other 13 clubs.
Wood said: "This saga has gone on for far too long and we are of the view that direct positive action is required to safeguard the future of Bradford Bulls. Under the ownership of SLE, we can plot a course for Bradford Bulls which is in the best interests of the club, the competition and the wider game."
Wood added: "If our offer is accepted, SLE will welcome approaches from all interested parties who have an interest in helping us secure a bright future for professional rugby league in Bradford."
Thursday's startling development was immediately welcomed by Brendan Guilfoyle, partner at The P&A Partnership who has been running the financially-stricken club since it went into administration on June 26.
"It was totally unexpected and is completely unprecedented, but a brilliant development," said Guilfoyle, the joint administrator. "If the deal goes ahead, then the Bradford Bulls will become the first club ever to be owned by the Super League clubs themselves."
Super League officials are meeting the Bulls players, coaches and club staff on Thursday afternoon to update them on developments and say further details of how Bradford would operate under SLE ownership will be announced in due course.
Thursday's news comes just 24 hours after the RFL rejected the latest, revised bid by the ABC consortium, a group of local Asian businessmen, whose offer was conditional on Bradford retaining their Super League status. The consortium also wanted the right to buy back the lease.
But the RFL reiterated they would not entertain offers with strings attached so a conditional offer from a rival group fronted by local MP Gerry Sutcliffe was also certain to fail. Guilfoyle insisted that he was ready to liquidate the famous club unless he could find a buyer.
Any transfer of licence would need to go before the other 13 Super League clubs, who were thought to have mixed views on the battle to save the Bulls, but Wood added: "It is to the credit of the Super League clubs that they have given their unanimous support to this move and are not prepared to stand idly by and see Bradford Bulls disappear."