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LONDON (Reuters) - English rugby league side Bradford Bulls have gone into liquidation after years of financial struggle, with administrators rejecting a bid to save the indebted former Super League champions.
"The Administrator of Bradford Bulls (Northern) Limited has confirmed that the club has ceased trading," the Rugby Football League (RFL) said in a statement on Tuesday.
The sport's ruling body added that the move was "not an entirely surprising development given the scale of debt incurred by the previous management of the club and the debilitating level of financial commitment already entered into for 2017".
The Bulls went into administration for the third time in four years in November.
An offer for the club was rejected last week and the RFL said "further late interest" by another party was withdrawn on Monday.
The RFL said, however, that a new club from Bradford would be allowed to compete in this year's second-tier championship which begins in February, but starting with a 12-point deficit.
"The RFL believes that Rugby League needs Bradford and that Bradford deserves a strong and stable professional club and will work with all interested parties to deliver that outcome," it said.
The Bulls won the Super League four times but ran into financial difficulties over unpaid taxes in 2012, when fans raised around 500,000 pounds ($611,000) to keep the club going after banks cut their overdraft facilities.
The club was known as Bradford Northern until the launch of Super League in the 1990s led to a rebranding.
($1 = 0.8188 pounds)
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ed Osmond