When it comes to getting people on board at any club, ultimately, it should not matter who joins the club – and with the increasing number of women getting involved in high board positions, one Bradford businesswoman in Jay Willey is the latest to take that next step, as she is close to joining the Bradford Bulls Board of Directors.
The development comes after Willey agreed to pump a 6-figure sum into the club, in return for a significant stake and shareholding – as the 41-year old owns the European arm of major cosmetics company Kroma, vowing to bring a touch of “glitz and glamour” to the Bulls.
Willey comes to the Eels with rugby league knowledge having been a Bradford Bulls fan her whole life, and after approaching owner Omar Khan, the deal is expected to be made official within the next month.
â€œIâ€™ve known Omar for a while and was delighted when he bought the Bulls,” said Willey.
â€œIâ€™ve always been very passionate about the club and have been helping out on a voluntary basis with ideas for drumming up corporate sales and have taken out a couple of advertising boards for my business at the stadium.
â€œThis was done with a view to coming on board as a director and Iâ€™m really excited about it. Iâ€™ve known other people who have grown up in Bradford and done well for themselves but invested their money elsewhere.
â€œIâ€™m happy to put my money into the club and help put Bradford back on the map because there has been enough doom and gloom in recent times.
â€œA lot of the retail outlets are closing, a lot of the nice wine bars and restaurants that we had are closing, and I want to give something back â€“ starting with the Bulls.
â€œThe corporate hospitality taking place at the club is already bringing people back into the city.
With rugby league traditionally viewed as a man’s game, Willey is keen to implement her idea of glitz and glamour into the sport, especially at Bradford.
â€œRugby has been a predominantly a manâ€™s game but I want to inject some glitz and glamour into the game and into the Bulls.
â€œIâ€™m hoping to be on board officially later this month or early April.â€
Willey does not expect to make an immediate return on her investment but believes she will reap the rewards over the long term.
â€œIâ€™d be lying if I said I didnâ€™t expect to make any money,â€ admitted Willey.
â€œBut itâ€™s a long-term commitment because I know itâ€™s going to take time.”
Given her long-term support of the club growing up, Willey is keen to see the Bulls grow and develop as an organisation and a football club, and she wants to be a part of that growth of the club moving forward.
â€œI want to see the club grow on and off the field and this kind of investment can help achieve that. Weâ€™re very family orientated and at the moment weâ€™re looking at some new disabled facilities being installed,” said Willey.
â€œFor me itâ€™s about giving something back to the fans because they were so incredibly supportive during the clubâ€™s financial troubles last year. Ultimately, we want to see the Bulls competing with the bigger clubs again.
â€œThere are two types of people in this world â€“ those that do and those that donâ€™t. Iâ€™m one of those who do.â€
Ryan Whitcut, the Bulls General Manager, is excited for the club and for Jay coming on board.
â€œItâ€™s fantastic news that Jay, a true Bradfordian, has voiced her intention to invest both time and money into the club,” said Whitcut.
â€œIt has always been Omarâ€™s plan to make part of the Bradford Bulls available to the Bradford community and the supporters.â€