Today saw recent rumours on the World Wide Web confirmed by David Baldwin that City had indeed failed to pay last month’s rent on time. Baldwin concludes the article with ‘We’re not being alarmist. We’re not in debt’ and while defaulting on rent does not necessarily signal the end of days, it is getting a bit close to the bone again.
All of which makes you wonder what the club are doing. We’ve all heard plenty of discussion about the budget, and since dropping into this league we’ve had budgets of £1.3m, £1.9m, £1.3m and this year £1.5m. In those seasons we’ve never taken more than roughly £1.3m in season ticket sales when accounting for junior discounts and the free tickets for U11’s. Mark Lawn categorically stated that we’d never risk the future of the club again, and while I’m not privy to all the financial information, spending more on the playing budget than you take in season ticket sales cannot be a good start. This automatically means that resources have to come from elsewhere, be that corporate income, match day tickets sales or income from merchandise and at the end of this chain something, somewhere is going to end up short. That being the rent this time.
Getting Gordon Gibb back involved, as many have suspected for a long time, looks to be common knowledge now as the best way of helping City back up the leagues. City claim that the level of rent we currently pay would only become a reasonable rent if we we’re to return to the heady heights of the Championship, currently a long, long way away.
Odsal was suggested a year or so back, until we realised that City would still be liable to rent, whether they played at VP or not. I remember the autumn day when Gordon Gibb claimed profoundly that Valley Parade will always be home of the Bantams. Well if he is to fulfil this promise, it looks as if he may have to reassess the level of rent the club currently pay.
While Valley Parade is purely a business venture for Gibb now, who has zero connections with the club, it is in his interest for the club to be playing at a higher level. In the 8 years the club have been paying rent on Valley Parade, Gibb has recouped his initial £2.5m outlay and then some for his pension fund. Therefore having City higher up the leagues will make his life much easier. The rent is more likely to be paid, be paid on time, and the club are likely to be more accepting of the deal the higher the leagues they go, thus earning Gibb’s pension fund more cash.
Obviously I have no idea as to how the rent level could be changed; rumours of a league or attendance based fee have been murmured. What is clear though, is that City are struggling, and remaining in League Two is in nobody’s interest.