Stuart McCall: “Hopefully I will see you all at Wembley.”

Stuart McCall

Image by Thomas Gadd (copyright Bradford City)

Part two of Jason McKeown’s in-depth chat with Stuart McCall about his recent sacking as Bradford City manager. (See part one here)

After the heartbreak of Bradford City’s play off final defeat to Millwall, rumours began to swirl that McCall and City would be parting ways. With key, out of contract players departing, and Billy Clarke sold, from the outside the club appeared to be gripped by crisis. Just what, on earth, was going on behind the scenes?

The answer, McCall reveals, was that a debate was taking place over how best to part ways, which ultimately led to a truce going into this season. “I went away for a few days with the staff, we discussed what had happened the previous season, what we’d like to do better and who we would like to bring in. And then myself, Kenny and Greg came in for a meeting with Edin to look forward at players, and who is staying and who is going.

“Edin said he wanted a one-to-one with me. He had read what I had said after the Millwall game, that this had been my toughest season in football. I think it had been tough for Edin as well, his first year in British football. He told me the budget was probably going to be cut, there would be young players coming in. And then he said we haven’t seen eye to eye on a lot of things, it’s probably time for a parting of ways.

“I listened to him for four or five minutes and I thought ‘I totally get it’. I’m always honest with Edin. So I told him ‘Edin I understand, your dream is to own a football club and to have a big involvement in every part of that football club’. That’s what his dream has been. Head of football is what he is. I totally understood that I wasn’t right for him. But after listening to him, I had to emphasise, I had walked away before – I walked away from Motherwell – I ain’t walking away from this. Because despite everything, we had just come so close to the Championship.

“I told him I won’t be walking away. I was due to go on holiday the next day, so he told me he would speak with Stefan and would have to find a way. It would have been 100% the right decision for Edin to have cut the strings, and I went away from holiday thinking that was it. I didn’t know Billy Clarke had gone, which was good business for the club. In my head, I wasn’t coming back to the club. I would have put my mortgage on not being at the club next season, but I wasn’t walking away.”

Was McCall holding out for a contract pay off? “It wasn’t a financial thing – I’d walked away before, but there was no way I was walking away from this football club, because I loved what I was doing. I got what Edin was saying. We hadn’t seen eye-to-eye on things. It wasn’t a relationship that was working. And he is the owner. He had 100% right to get someone in he could work with.”

Yet despite the rumours reaching fever pitch, McCall’s departure never happened. “After my holiday we met up and Edin told me they weren’t going to sack me because they thought there would be uproar. The only other option was to leave by mutual consent. But again he was concerned that fans would be angry. I would have 100% come out and said it was the right decision; it was just a clash of cultures.

“People say the most important relationship in a club is between the manager and the chairman, although I believe the one between the manager and players runs it close. I struggled to work the way Edin would have liked; but regardless, the bond between the staff and players took us so close to promotion and that filled me with pride.

“They didn’t want to do mutual consent, didn’t want to sack me, I wasn’t resigning – so it was stalemate. We then discussed it again and found a way for how we could work together. We’ve got to find a way to make this work. So we came to an agreement and started to kick on and looking at players to bring in.”

Was this papering over the cracks? “What I will say is that, this season, our relationship has been better. It hasn’t been great, but we’ve found a way to work together better.” Nevertheless, the task of rebuilding the team was considerable.

“I knew it would be a struggle to replicate the previous season. We had one player in the PFA team, (James) Meredith, who leaves. We had two players of the year, (Mark) Marshall and Josh (Cullen), who leave. We lose Rory McArdle, who has been a stalwart for us and scored the goal that took us to Wembley, and then we lose Billy Clarke, who for the first part of last season was key for what we did. Adding to that we lose our top scorer, Jordy Hiwula, and then we lose probably the best professional we have in Stephen Darby. So we’ve lost a really good chunk of the side there.

“We brought a few young lads early on and pay money for them. You’ve got to say the club has paid money, that didn’t happen in the previous regime.”

Image by Thomas Gadd

“I realised that day not a lot was going to change.”

There was one particular gap in recruitment that would quickly show the uneasy truce between manager and chairman might not last indefinitely. With City short of a right-sided centre half to replace Rory McArdle, McCall brought in 36-year-old Gordon Greer on trial. Stuart takes up the story, “The year before, I had been away with Gordon with Scotland, playing against Italy and France, before the Euros, and Greer was really strong. He got man of the match when we drew 2-2 against Poland, up against Lewandowski, 18 months before.

“I knew all about him. We all knew his age, it wasn’t a surprise to anyone, and we offered him a deal at the middle of the wage budget. We had the pre-season tour of Germany with one place left in the squad, and three options to fill it. One of the options refused point blank to come with us on trial, he thought he was better than that. The second option wanted 24 hours to think about coming with us, whereas Gordon straightaway said he would come. All he was coming on trial for was to see his fitness, because he had not played a lot of football at Brighton. The second day of training, he was fifth in the running. His talking and organisation was really strong. He was decent in the air, good on the ball, can bring the ball out.

“We play the game on the Saturday, and he cruises through. So I told him that when he comes in on Monday, the deal will be sorted. But for whatever reason, Edin then wasn’t sure. He asked me if Gordon can play in the next friendly, on Tuesday against Guiseley. I argued that I had told him that he would be signing a deal, now I’ve got to ask him if we can see him in another game.

“Gordon agreed to play the Guiseley game. He wasn’t brilliant, but it’s pre-season, and he scores a goal. Everything is good. He plays the position we want, ticks all the boxes. Edin wasn’t at the game, he was still in Germany. But for whatever reason he doesn’t want to do it, and so I have to ring Gordon and say we can’t give him a deal. That’s tough. We’ve messed him about. I still don’t know to this day the real reason why we didn’t sign him. Did it leave panic and a hole? Yes. Ideally, I would have liked Edin to have trusted me and my entire staff’s judgement, and I realised that day not a lot was going to change.”

Adding to McCall’s frustration was the arrival of a familiar face on the training ground, who Rahic had signed despite his coaching staff declaring he wasn’t good enough. “A week before Gordon came in, Lachlan Barr came in to train. Lachlan is a fantastic lad, really committed, but for our level wasn’t really good enough. We had him on trial the season before for a week – and all the staff thought he was a great lad, great attitude, but not good enough for a team getting out of this league. The next minute he’s turned up for training and he’s signed for six months. And yet we couldn’t get Gordon Greer over the line.”

Whilst City look weaker as a squad this season, they have up until the half way point of the campaign performed just as strongly. Losing more games, especially at home, but picking up more points compared to a year ago. Crucially, they have not fallen out of the top six.

“I still thought we could get to Wembley again. Talk of automatic promotion was unrealistic when you’ve got Wigan and Blackburn’s budgets. Scunthorpe, Charlton, Rotherham have blown us out of the water over everything we looked at. There has to be realism. It’s not negative. Top six is again overachieving.

“Our home record is poor, but we managed to do other things. We then get to New Years Day, win at Fleetwood, and have more points than we had a year ago. Even if you’re not the biggest Stuart McCall fan, we had enjoyed 18 months of progression. That’s a fact.”

And then, it all really unravelled.

Image by Thomas Gadd

“We have been in a poor run, but there were reasons for it.”

For a loanee right back, Luke Hendrie’s on-off transfer to Bradford City certainly caused an almighty fuss. His sudden departure from the team hotel, prior to the FA Cup game at Yeovil, has been cited by many as the trigger point to the team’s collapse in form. McCall was certainly left disappointed the deal never happened.

“It was so difficult because the lad was absolutely desperate to play for Bradford City,” McCall adds. “He had been at Manchester United and Derby County as a kid, but it was his dream to play for Bradford City. The thing with Luke was he was a fantastic professional. The players really warmed to him, they thought he was great.

“It was a bit like last season with the likes of Stephen Darby, Rory McArdle, Filipe Morais and Nathan Clarke – the people who weren’t in the team were pushing the others. They weren’t sulking. Luke wouldn’t have been happy to not be playing, but he would have been pushing others all the way. He had that desire. He wasn’t going to sign for us for financial reasons; the money was irrelevant to him.”

So what happened? “We kept talking about signing him in December. We knew his deal was going to finish, and Tom Field’s was going to finish. Greg is working on the deal and we know how much it’s going to be. To all the staff and to all the players, it’s a no brainer – exactly what we need. Someone who is desperate to play for the football club, who’s not going to touch the budget, and can play a variety of positions.

“But the Friday before travelling to Yeovil, there was a suggestion the club and Burnley couldn’t agree on something. Luke still wanted to travel, because he was desperate to play, confident it would be sorted out. As we are travelling down I spoke to Greg, who told me that the deal was getting sorted. On the Friday evening, we had just finished our dinner and Luke came to see me and said ‘I think the deal is off, something has gone wrong’. He was distraught. I didn’t know why, but it wasn’t finances. Greg was still trying to sort it out.

“The next morning we all met for a pre-match walk, and Luke’s going around the lads hugging them. He can’t play for us, they’ve not agreed a deal with Burnley for whatever reason. He’s going to go to another club on Monday. And that was so sad to see him so disappointed. This is half an hour before we get on the bus to go to Yeovil. He was in the team.

“People say it wasn’t a big thing, but in light of what was happening to Tony McMahon, to let Luke Hendrie go didn’t make sense.”

That afternoon at Huish Park, City suffered a surprise FA Cup exit to League Two strugglers Yeovil, putting the manager under pressure. “I was so disappointed in the first 45 minutes against Yeovil. We didn’t turn up, we were poor. We got in at half time 0-0, and then Kilgallon has to come off. The back five of the first league game of the season, against Blackpool, was now all missing in the second half. People say it is an excuse, but it’s a fact.

“We had the third choice goalkeeper making his debut, young Jacob Hanson making his debut – he might go onto have a great career, but he’s not ready at this moment in time. Tyrell Robinson at left back, who is a winger. We had Romain, who has played at the back, but had played midfield all season. And we had Adam Thompson, who’d not had a lot of football and wasn’t brimming with confidence.”

The fact Yeovil drew Manchester United in the next round only added salt to the wounds, and more issues were piling up. Next there was Tony McMahon. The subject of a transfer bid from promotion rivals Scunthorpe, the saga of whether he would stay or leave cast a further shadow over the squad. “Tony wanted to stay here, but Scunthorpe were offering more money and the security of a longer deal.

“It was the same as with James Hanson the year before. Tony was told by the club there would be no contract offer until the end of the season, but when you’ve seen Romain and Knight-Percival sign new deals, Tony, Doyle, Nicky Law are all obviously thinking…Scunthorpe offer the club decent money, and the player an attractive deal. They were told they need to offer more and all the vibes from the agent suggested they would come back. But Tony’s head is now turned. It was unsettling, and it was unsettling in the dressing room.

“For whatever reason, Scunthorpe never came back with another offer; but that made the Luke Hendrie situation even stranger.

“So there was the Luke Hendrie situation, getting beat by Yeovil, and then Tony McMahon, that was the beginning. It all had an effect on the dressing room. We had a couple of games without a recognised full back. And at the Oldham game, we had no wingers. So yeah we have been in a poor run, but there were reasons for it. Not excuses, genuine reasons.”

Image by Thomas Gadd

“I saw Greg’s comment the other day, the club needs some glue.”

As defeats to Northampton, Bristol Rovers, Rotherham, Wimbledon and then Oldham racked up, McCall would lose his job. “I read Stefan’s piece the other week, and a lot of it was understandable, but a couple of things he said really disappointed me.

“One thing is he said he asked me for the reasons behind the bad run, and I’d not come up with any. But the last time he spoke to me was in November, at the Matter of Heart premiere. He used to text me before every game, wishing me luck, up to December. He used to come to more games, but obviously he has business priorities. I got a text from him after the Yeovil game, which was fine and I understood his frustrations, but I did encourage him to come over more often if he could, and see what was happening at the club.

“So for him to say he asked but didn’t get any answers, well he certainly didn’t ask me. I would have been more than happy to answer his questions, and the opportunity to have explained things to him.

“The other part was saying we didn’t receive a decent income from our cup performances. That’s absolutely true of course, although only four clubs from our level reached the fourth round of the FA Cup this season. And we did get good money for James and Billy, and reached Wembley – which surely made the club some strong income.”

As for the future, Stuart is full of support and belief the players can get to Wembley this season, and that Simon Grayson is a terrific appointment and will do a great job, if allowed to manage his way.

“Can we progress and be successful? I’m so hopeful we can. I saw Greg’s comment the other day, the club needs some glue. We tried to provide that glue last summer.”

Picture by Thomas Gadd

McCall on…

…the Matter of Heart film

“Two things angered me. They had clips of the fire, and I said to them I won’t be turning up to the premiere if that’s still in it. You’ve got to understand that that will only bring back horrendous memories. In fairness, they pulled it out.

“The other thing was the way James Hanson was portrayed, because that was totally wrong. Greg got the wrong information. I think Edin misread it.

“James has given me, probably in the last 10 years of supporting City, my best memories. Even just last season, when he scored in the 56th minute in the Bobby game. It soon became clear, through speaking with James’ agent, that he wasn’t getting another deal. That’s fine, so when a club comes in and offers him a contract beyond the rest of the season, it’s a no brainer.

“The truth of the matter, 100%, and I’ve told Edin this, James came in early Friday morning after the agent had told him about Sheffield United, and I spoke to him. He never once suggested he wouldn’t play, but I knew his mental state wouldn’t be right, and I wanted everyone fully focused for the Millwall game. So I told him to go home before the lads come in.

“It was my decision and my decision alone. Never once did he refuse to play. I thought the way the film portrayed him was totally wrong, and I told everyone that. I was disappointed they kept it in. I was so pleased that James got a great reception against Bury on Saturday. He deserved it.

“Of all the other stuff that was in it, it was what it was. The camera crew came along, and were in the dressing room. To be fair, they were good guys. They were very respectful for what I would and what I wouldn’t let them film.”

…his chosen players

“The two players that I pushed for this season were Paul Taylor and Ryan McGowan. Taylor was Peterborough’s best player both times we played them, and I spoke to Paul Jewell about him. He was the one I really wanted.

“The other one I pushed for was Ryan McGowan. The only doubt was he had been playing in Dubai. He was coming as right back, but with an eye because we needed a right-sided centre back. I believe he will go on to be a really good signing. And if that’s the last piece of business I’m involved with, I’m sure it will turn out good.”

…the supporters

“I’d just like to say thank you, Jason, for giving me the chance to thank the fans for all the support I have received since leaving the club. The goodwill messages have been fantastic. And hopefully I will see you all at Wembley.”

 

***

Post script

Stefan Rupp’s interview with the Telegraph & Argus about the reasons he and Edin Rahic decided to sack Stuart McCall can be found here.

In the immediate wake of McCall’s dismissal, Edin Rahic contacted myself with an offer to do an interview. We spoke on the phone for 10 minutes, but Edin did not want to do the interview over the phone, and instead meet up face-to-face. Unfortunately, due to the fact I live and work in Skipton (and have two young daughters), it has not been possible to meet during the day. However, I am hopeful that we can eventually find an evening to meet and talk, where Edin can share his views on recent events and his future ambitions for the club.

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Categories: Interviews

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42 replies

  1. Wow. This interview is absolute dynamite! Another fantastic piece of journalism from WOAP. Thank you

  2. Wow! Just Wow! Not sure where this leaves the Owners, especially Edin. It has asked more questions than given answers. The fact that Stefan never asked for reasons regarding the bad run, then stated he did, is extremely worrying for us fans. I am hopeful that Edin (and Stefan) can be interviewed at some point. Until they do, the bad feelings towards them will just simmer on. Let’s hope that Grayson hasn’t just been brought in to appease the fans but to offer a longer term strategy to progress this club to the Championship.
    Thank you Jason, we are lucky at this club to have balanced media like this.

  3. I’m very disappointed by the way James Hanson was portrayed by the Rahic film.
    I honestly will not believe word of what comes out our Chairman (s) mouths.
    I think Stuart is better off out the club and I hope another club at our level gives him the level of support needed.
    As for me well I can only walk with my feet, ill not be buying Season tkts next season.
    ill go watch Guisley

  4. Not a cat in hells chance will Grayson put up with what Stuart McCall had to. Unless mr chairman has learnt a lesson or two which I highly doubt

  5. Well done WOAP. Great interview and article. It all makes Stuart’s achievements more remarkable!

  6. Never doubted Stuart’s integrity. He is an absolute Gentlemen and legend. It is clear he did an outstanding job given the situation he found himself in. Also a big heads up to James Hanson who always gave 100%. Fantastic journalism by Jason, thanks for such an informed piece.

  7. Fantastic, brutal insight into what has gone on. The few who wanted Stuart’s head were deluded by the owners and the truth shows that what many of us suspected was true. All the vents behind the scenes, precipitated by a wannabe football manager with no experience or people skills, meddling behind the set, has derailed a Championship contender side and disbanded it, perhaps purely for cost savings.

    Stuart has always been honest, open and totally professional, it’s a pity the same cannot be said of the owners! Facts speak for themselves and as has been stated many times now, despite the was he was being undermined and having his hands tied, Stuart still managed to push the lads into performances beyond themselves for 18 months.

    In his words, “Did I deserve sacking for the last month? Yes. But then I deserved a medal for the previous 17!” You certainly did and if Simon Grayson is half the man you are and gets the backing, we will be Championship bound after all. Not because of your sacking, but depspite it! The only way this can happen is if good sense is allowed to take over where ego has failed.

  8. Wow! That was one very interesting read and clearly a part 3 edition will have to follow.
    Sadly there are no winners in this situation so I’m hoping that as a club we can somehow learn from the experience and move forward with Simon Grayson.
    Whilst I was a fan of Stuart’s I believe that Simon Grayson is an excellent appointment with an equally impressive managerial track record.
    Whatever our views are on Stuart’s dismissal I sincerely hope that we can put aside any negative feelings and pull together in a positive way for the benefit of our club.

  9. Well done WOTP great interview with a great man Stuart (Iron) Mcall, says it how it is, So sad to see how Stuart’s been treated. Been coming here 55 years and seen the best football ever played at valley parade these last 18 months 2 years , Enoughs enough for me now , have given my season ticket to my lads friend to go with my son, I’ve had enough after this disgraceful unwarranted sacking! No more season tickets for me .

    • Like you, Bob, I’ve been a City fan for more years than I care to mention. Similarly, that’s me finished too. I didn’t go last Saturday and won’t be renewing my season ticket. I’d guess there’s more damning information that Stuart will be saving for his book.

      An excellent piece of journalism. Well done WOAP.

    • Best football in at valley Parade in 55 years lol. Get outta here. I’m not impressed by the way McCall has ben treat by the clubs hierarchy but lets not be silly with it. The football last season was a welcome change from direct long ball football but wasn’t any where near the football played under Jewell in the promotion season and the fantastic stuff played by the side in the nearly season of 87/88. The football this season has been average league 1 fodder, i can count on one hand the amount of games where i have been truly impressed by us as a team. I back this up by asking how many players this season have really had decent seasons. Not many candidates is there. From the interviews it’s clear McCall was never really wanted from the start, i wish in a way his heart hadn’t ruled his head as i think he knew all along it wasn’t going to work. I wish him luck wherever he goes.

  10. I have no reason to doubt what Stuart says, and as such it does highlight how much the chairmen have done to undermine their own and the clubs success. Interesting that the 2 players Stuart wanted could well be the best 2 signings made this season. Sad to read about the Gordon Greer saga, sounds like someone we come have used having not had a clean sheet since Shrewsbury away (and we were lucky not to concede then too).

    Throughout their tenure they seem intent on doing it their way, to their own and everyone else’s detriment. As successful businessmen they should know better and especially not to patronise or annoy your loyal customer base especially in the treatment of the club legend.

    It sounds like Stuart has been harshly treated, thanks to him for being so candid and still in love with the club and for doing the interview; thanks for writing such an interesting piece (possibly one of the best) and I hope you do get that Edin interview.

  11. Brilliant interview.Stuart,open and honest as usual.His love and passion for City always shows through.I was sad to see him go.See you at Wembley ,Stuart.

  12. I think the the film illustrated very clearly the way Edin likes to do things, “my way, or no way”. Edin has lost a great coach and Manager in Stuart , and maybe appeased the fan base a little bit with the appointment of Simon Grayson, what he needs to realise is that he is in danger of losing the fan base with his ego trips. Bradford City means more to its fan base than this Chairman ever will, protect your investment Edin and Stefan and be the figure heads your meant to be, but leave the training and recruitment to the professionals.

  13. Hope to see you back as manager yet again Stuart when people in charge will leave you to do your job without interference. I only hope Simon Grayson does not and will not become s puppet for these Germans

  14. A great piece Jason, I’m really glad Stuart has seen the thoughts of fans and the unerring support for him, he is a true City legend and claret and amber, through and through. The Hanson stuff in the film was awful and disappointing, how can anyone doubt what he did for us. Myself and my lad cheered for Hans as much as we did for Stuart, as well as the rest of the fans and that says it all.

    I’ve got to say again, I’m not as down on the owners as some, I believe they really wan the club to progress, it’s just a shame they did not see that they had the key right under their noses, Super Stuart McCall.

  15. I think the choice of club Edin chose wasn’t the right fit. We were club going for promotion with successful Structure. So changing the whole philosophy wasn’t in the best interests of our club.
    Edin should have looked for struggling club so straight away changes were needed and he could have moulded the club into his way of thinking.
    chopping the wage budget was suicide and letting experienced Lge1 players leave the club to bring in younger inexperienced players at our level.
    When you appoint a manager like Stuart Mcall who is leader of men you have the perfect man to trust and work with.
    Edin let the manager have wage budget to work with leave the football side to experienced people and learn

  16. Successful companies employ experts in their field of knowledge and allow them to manage the business using that experience. Only a fool would pay to employ experts and then ignore/disrupt their advice surely?What’s the point?
    Surely that applies to football the same as business.

    Is it too early to say that this could prove to be a one off situation or a recurring theme?

    If it’s the latter I fear that the Progress seen under Parky and Stuart will be thrown away.

  17. its refreshing to have a forum like WOAP after all the “crap” you read on Facebook. There are a section of City fans that never rated McCall ,describing his football as tippy tappy,that called for him to be sacked after Wimbledon at home. Non of them either have the wit or ability to look and listen at what was going on behind the scene and what he had to work with or more accurately what he didnt have to work with.Unless we won then McCall was useless and tactically naïve. Even with this interview they still wont get it . I am totally gutted to have lost McCall and the fact that he has been robbed of the chance to get his beloved City promoted . For me he totally overachieved against great odds these last 18 months and quite frankly it doesn’t matter now what Rahic says or does . I am another who wont be renewing my season ticket. LIving on the other side of the Pennines I will pick and choose the games I go to .

  18. Rahic & Rupp have been totally disrepectful in how they’ve treated McCall. The duo have very little credibility left. Contradiction after contradiction. Mid table budget but expecting automatic promotion. Great interview. Feel for Stuart worked hard deserved much better treatment.

  19. Another great article Jason always enjoy reading your pieces. I think the timing might have been better and I know there are always two sides to a story.
    I look forward to the balance when Edin gives the owners side.
    In the meantime I hope all focus on the next 14 games

  20. A bigger coup for Jason than Simon Parker can say.Well Done.Stew will walk away for me with his head still up there as a Mc God.Greer and Hendries rejection sound pretty key moments together with the ditching of Rory.He has performed miracles to keep the club in the hunt with rivals snapping up the best.Radic clearly wants promotion on a lower mid table budget.4 players signed Stew would never have.Great work Jason.Radic get Stews cheque paid quick.Any sign that he reneges on Stews contract I will never set foot again.He may have lost £700000 (apparently) in first year of ownership.It would have been cheaper to buy himself the game “Football Manager”.What did he think he was buying? Football Clubs cost owners.

  21. It made me wonder if Stuart knew more about the Luke Hendrie situation, but was afraid complete disclosure would only serve to undermine Rahic further?

    I’m sure if he was a less classy person and not a City fan at heart, he could have spilled his guts and really set the cat among the pigeons. I’m afraid Rahic will ultimately put his investment in jeopardy if he keeps on meddling with team affairs at the club. Despite his assertions that ‘he knows football’, he needs to understand that there’s far more knowledgeable and experienced people than him. Hopefully he’s now learned his lesson and Grayson will be allowed to get on with the job. If not then I’m afraid they’ll be looking for yet another manager come this summer.

  22. Thank you Jason for yet another first class article.

    What an honour to interview the legend that is Stuart McCall.

    A friend of mine who supports Charlton Athletic said of McCall recently that he is a rarity in football these days; a genuine bloke who is (was) in football for the right reasons.

    Will McCall manage us for a third time? Only time will tell but thank you again Stuart for so many more happy memories from your fourth period at Bradford City.

  23. What a true & honest article, let’s hope one of us fans can win that 133 Million on the Euro Millions this Friday!!! Put a bid in and take the club off the current owners and let the manager run the team and pick the players to sign the Traditional English way, and you as a owner just only have to supply the budget, and watch success in good hands. Dear dear dear…….

  24. I hope Mr Chairman has learnt his lesson. Shame Stuart had to pay the price for his education though.

    It is now clear as to why the recent run of form has come about.

    Clearly Stuart did not have the support of one or more chairmen and didnt want to back him in January as they would be bringing stuarts players in knowing full well those players contracts would surpass the managers own contract.

  25. Very rarely in football do you see such a large change in form. So dramatic. As High says it’s now clear why this happened in January. A lot of fans didn’t understand the impact that the Hendries situation had on the squad. These fans looked at losing a relatively inexperienced young player rather than the possible impact that the way the thing was handled. It was not about losing Hendrie but more about the message coming down from the owners which impacted on the team and their morale. It was about the clumsy way it was done and although we don’t know the full details we do now know what they are capable of. After 55 seasons I chose not to go on Saturday as my own protest against these owners. I was appalled when I learned that Rahic was also not there. To be honest Grayson is, I feel the best man for the job now. But there has been no detail on his contract that I am aware of and it seems to me a case of ‘ get us to the end of the season and we will see’.Clearly he won’t be messed about by Edin so it’s anybody’s​ guess what will happen. I still have a nasty taste in my mouth about the whole affair and as some of the above have said may not buy a season ticket.

    • When a fan of Mark’s standing and integrity makes such comments, the owners need to take a long, hard look at the way they conduct themselves. I saw the sky highlights and would guess only 15,000/16,000 actually attended the game. A warning shot has been fired across their bows!

  26. Great interview and factually revealing of what went on over Stuarts 18 month tenure, It is clear that he loved the club so much to put up with contentious decision making from uninformed directors and stuck by the club. Many would have walked! The Hendrie incident to me is the catalyst of the losing run throughout January. The facts were clear. Stuart was playing a weakened demoralised team. Weakened because of injuries and having to play players with dipping form and inexperienced youngster. Hendrie’s ability to play in different positions would have given the team better options at the back and who knows could have sneaked a win at Yeovil. I wrote earlier that I felt his performances were improving with each game he played. To me it was a no-brainer – he should have been signed!
    The final point was the signing of Bar. I thought all signings were done via a committee type system whereby, Rahic, Gregg and Stuart all had input. This contradicts the boards approach to the recruitment strategy. It is clear that Rahic who has questionable football knowledge, thought he was good enough but clearly that was not the case.
    I only hope that Simon Grayson can fill the void now Stuart has gone. I wish him and the team well going forward. Like others I share their concern regarding board interference. I hope that Rahic can give a honest response to the the issues raised in this interview and going forward, I hope that lessons have been learnt.

  27. Fascinating piece and great to hear from Stuart.

    I just though don’t agree with these people who say they will not renew their season ticket because of the whole episode. If everybody stopped going everytime they didn’t like the owners or manger then we would be playing in front of one man and his dog.

    Personally I didn’t think Stuart should’ve gone and have concerns regarding the owners, but you continue to support your club. I just wonder in what set of circumstances would Stuart deserve to lose his job; 10 defeats on the trot? Or in some people’s eyes is he just unsackable, which wouldn’t be right? What happens if Grayson comes in and gets us promoted this season, would they then feel the owners decision was vindicated?

    I’m also sure if you asked Stuart the last thing he would want is for people not to go because of this.

    Whatever your thoughts on the matter, the overriding thing to me about this interview is that it shows what a great guy Stuart is, and how lucky we have been for him to play a big part in our fortunes over the last 35 years. I thank him for all he has done for the club and wouldn’t rule it out him returning in some capacity sometime in the future.

    • When the trust is broken in any relationship, Rob, it’s time for a parting of the ways. I fully understand your view but I no longer trust the owners and, as such, I shan’t be attending any further games under the current regime. That’s just my personal reaction and understand that many others will wish to continue watching the club. It’s all down to freedom of choice.

    • While I respect this view, as someone who will not renew my ST, can I say that in my view this illustrates why we end up with clubs like Blackpool and Blackburn in English football.

      Only swift nigh on 100% collective action by supporters can bring about a required change of ownership before it gets even more damaging. Only when literally 1 man and his dog turn up will even the most deluded of Chairman be forced to get out. It will never happen at BCFC or at any other club of course. But the alternative is a protracted corrosive decline as experienced by so many other clubs who have a hard core of fans who will support the team no matter what.

      But do I want to support? A team of Rahic’s signings in the short term or do I want to support the long term community of BCFC? I do not believe that the long term best interests of the community of BCFC lie under the stewardship of Rahic and Rupp – at least as it stands – therefore I will not support them financially.

      A comparison was made recently on this blog with the stewardship of Richmond but we all remember how well that turned out to the long term well being of our community club when an owner got beyond himself.

      Ultimately all fans can do is vote with their feet whether for a change of manager or owner. I respect others if they want to vote differently.

      Completely agree of course about what a great guy Stuart is!

  28. It’s fair to say we lost Parky as he could see what was coming, Stuart because he got what was coming and the new manager has only signed for 6 months as he fears what it is like working with ze germans.

    Fingers crossed some lessons were learnt and it’s 3rd time lucky…

  29. Rob, what else can fan do to let the currant board of directors know we are not happy ?.
    yes our club as been through darker times than this and we’ve supported through thick and thin.
    Edin Rahic will only get the message if he sits in his seat at VP and see’s seats with no fans sat on them.
    I will attend Bradford but choose the games I want to be part of.
    The club didn’t need any change in direction, our club needed finance to get us into the Championship.
    Edin needs to appreciate the values and direction this club was going

  30. Completely agree with Rob, the last thing Stuart would want would be for people to stop supporting the club, he is obviously hurting but leaves no doubt that he will continue to support City. I feel that emotion has had a huge part to play with the matter, both on Stuart’s part and that of his most fervent fans.

    Some have questioned the motive behind the appointment of Stuart, but for me it was welcome. We had the shock of PP walking away, and the owners recognised Stuart’s standing/history – what on earth was wrong with that? It was the right thing for the club. In similar fashion Simon Grayson’s appointment seems correct now.

    Behind the sacking the fact is our form was terrible, and it wasn’t just the “dreadful January” that Stuart referred to – the home form was awful and we had lost more games (13) by the end of January than the entire previous season.(10) Interesting to learn that Edin set a short term points target during the loss of form, wheras in Stuart’s first managerial spell at City he himself did the same thing in a poor spell before walking away. Some comments in Jason’s article don’t seem to match up, with Stuart saying that “even through the bad run the belief was there” with the players – yet he mentions “no fight” at Rotherham followed by the Wimbledon defeat. Consequently the owners made their call, without doubt many disagree, but surely the reasoning could be understood.

    Obviously the Hendrie situation had an effect, but several parties had responsibility there and not to have the situation resolved on the eve of a game does not reflect credit on anyone. Stuart obviously rated the player as a great lad, but given the names involved (and connections with City over a long period) it is possible that the owners felt pressurised and did not agree.

    It is difficult for most to accept the strategy of our owners, but we must respect it, They want the club to be run on sustainable grounds, as a result we cannot compete with the bigger hitters in our league. Extremely frustrating- but we as City fans are only too aware of what the opposite approach can bring.

    We must move on, Stuart has gone with his reputation intact and our support for the club must continue – to revoke that support helps no one.

  31. When you don’t go, it is the club that suffers, as they are obviously no longer are getting your income or vocal support.

    If you want to register your disgust to the owners organise a protest outside the ground, unfurl a banner, or maybe have a pitch invasion Blackpool style! Personally I think it would be great if the owners held a Q&A session where the fans could raise their concerns, although I doubt this will happen.

    Other than Lawn and Rhodes, how many owners have you trusted, I would say not many. Did I trust Richmond, Tordoff, Gibb etc, course I didn’t, but it still didn’t stop me going.

    As I said I have reservations about the owners, but it is still too early to conclude whether their approach will succeed, and we are certainly a long way from a Blackpool type scenario. What happens If we end up getting promoted this season, and particularly with the owners being instrumental in the appointment of Grayson, will their approach then be deemed a success?

    I also think part of this reaction is that it was Stuart that was sacked, if it was anybody else then I don’t think we would be having the same uproar, and there wouldn’t be nowhere near as many fans saying they are stopping going.

    I just feel with Stuart because of what he means to us, at times we make decisions based on pure emotion, and it reminds me of his 1st spell, when the fans persuaded him to stay for a 3rd season, which I thought was more a decision based on sentiment for a lot of people, rather than footballing reasons.

    Like I say, Stuart would be devastated if a lot of fans stopped going because of this, and it would be the club that loses out.

  32. As usual an excellent article. What the comments show is what an emotive subject it is. Stuart managing City is like Le Tissier managing Southampton, like Shearer at Newcastle. Having Stuart as Manager was perfect and having Stuart as Manager of a winning Bradford City side is utopia.

    At Xmas I said to my eldest, if we can sort out our home form out we will go up. However I added the rider that if our away form drops then we will drop quick.

    Just like Stuart’s last spell in charge there has been an astonishing collapse of form and performance. Yes we have been struck with injuries and the lack of depth has been exposed but what has been striking (and this is hearsay from friends who can get to more matches than me) is the lack of quality and worse lack of effort. I was told that the Yeovil performance was like a protest and the Wimbledon, Northampton, Rotherham and Oldham inept.

    Unfortunately the owners wouldn’t have the patience that we McCall supporters would have. But then again it is their money. Time will tell whether the decision is right and even then, say if we went up, people could say well Stuart would have turned it round.

    I think the Rahic/McCall conflict shows that Stuart shouldn’t have let his heart rule his head. The owner always wins I’m afraid.

    I think if possible we need the Rahic side of the story. The thing I would like to hear is his version of the Hendrie episode. It seems to me , trying to read between the lines, is that his agent might be the key here. The Shrewsbury deal came up pretty quickly for a lad so desperate to play for City. Sounds to me as with McMahon that Rahic didn’t like being held to ransom. It’ll be interesting to hear.

    I’m sad that Stuart won’t be in charge from now but it won’t stop me supporting City.

    • I too would like the Rahic story but with the track record of complete disdain and lack of respect for the customers (supporters) I dont envisage that will happen anytime soon.

  33. This interview was very enlightening. Well done Jason. It reveals a lot of what we were all thinking. Stuart is and always will be a legend at Bradford City. Let’s hope he is able prove his worth to employers who appreciate his talents. The owners really need to think hard about their style of “management” and control. As has been said many times they MUST let the team manager run the team within a budget.. A lot of talk has transpired about not attending matches and not renewing season tickets but even Stuart suggests he still loves the club and hopes to be at Wembley. I realise a match boycott may make the owners think but we have a new manager and he and the players need our support. Perhaps the owners have got the message after Edin made his excuses about not being at the Bury match. I shall continue to go until the end of the season and decide then about renewing my season ticket. If Simon Grayson decides not to stay then maybe I will return to Bradford Park Avenue and Mark Bower’s team.

  34. Anyone else feel complete sense of foreboding…?

    • Rahic decides to plough his life savings into a business he has no experience in …in a different country…and to trial an untried business model. Rupp thinks its a good idea to bankroll his mate. Am i missing something here? ..or is it just rank stupidity?…

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