Now that any fears of relegation have been all but put to bed, it is time that a lot of things surrounding Bradford City are discussed properly. You would have to have been living like a hermit for the past year or so to not realise that there are numerous things at the club which are not right.
So with that in mind, here is an open letter to the club.
Dear Mr Lawn and Mr Rhodes,
Now that any relegation fears have been all but put to bed, I feel it is appropriate for a deep and thorough review of everything surrounding Bradford City AFC. And that requires answering some very difficult questions. I would first like to put on record my thanks for putting your money where your mouth is and trying to help the club progress. But with the way the proposed move to Odsal has reared its head again; real questions have to be asked.
The big issue is the proposed move to Odsal. From the media bits I have read, it isn’t clear to me as to why we are considering leaving our home of 108 years. Yes, Odsal represents a chance to get rid of almost £750,000 in rent per year, but it also means that other income streams such as the corporate facilities and catering will be lost. To me it appears that the idea is being drawn up on the back of a cigarette packet. We have also been told that in the past we have had budgets of £1.3 million, £1.9m, £1.3m and £1.5m. If this is the case, why are we not cutting our cloth accordingly to remain at Valley Parade? Dagenham went up last year on a budget of £750,000 – money doesn’t win you leagues but teams do, so why are we not tightening our belts by reducing the playing budget?
Further to this, how would you expect the club to break out of the lease? You claimed in an interview with Boy from Brazil that it would mean administration – now I am not a business man but administration is for insolvent companies and David Baldwin has told the fans we are not – so how is this a viable option? We have been in the position before as you will know in 2004 when we were told administration was ‘a formality’ and yet we were minutes away from closure. Do you not think that placing the club in administration is an unnecessarily risky strategy?
Additionally, what is the long term plan? Leaving Valley Parade would ensure that the club would never move back again. Is the plan to settle at Odsal forever – a suicidal move – or would the club begin plans for a new ground, following the path of many successful teams in the recent past – Hull, Swansea, Cardiff, Chesterfield to name a few.
Moving on from the stadium debate, why are the club not learning past lessons regarding finances? When Mr Lawn came into the club, he promised an end to overspending. However, two summers ago we had to force high earners out of the club having sealed contracts that the club could not uphold and yet again we are in the position of trying to force players out of the club. Last summer the club gladly signed a contract with Lewis Hunt which would see a years extension if he played 20 games. Why are the club handing out these seemingly inappropriate contracts when they know full well if things don’t go to plan they will not be able to honour them? It would be much more appropriate to offer contracts to players we can honour, even if that means getting players of less ability.
Finally, what are the clubs long term plans? Five years ago we were told we would be heading towards the Championship now – yet we lay in the lowest position I and many younger generations of City fans have seen. The club should be ambitious, the fans should be ambitious but it is time the club put a proper thought through long term strategy in place that would see the club rise through the leagues on a sustainable basis. I believe if the club explained a proper long term strategy the fans would be receptive and explain how it would work. An example of this would be Bury’s decision to sign players last summer who all had to be 27 years or younger – a plan which has bore fruits early.
It isn’t nice being negative about the club we all love, but some serious questions and answers are needed. This letter is by no means an extensive list of fans’ concerns and reading around some of the clubs different message boards will reveal many other concerns. We all thought the club had bottomed out when we hit League Two, then again when Peter Taylor was appointed. This summer is massive for the future of Bradford City and a serious review of the entire club is needed.
I don't expect a reply, but hopefully it will bring attention to just a few of the many things that are currently wrong with the club and allow us to finally attempt to progress.