Bradford City fans have a right to feel hurt by the club’s leadership, and now it must be expressed constructively

By Jason McKeown

It’s been another difficult week for Edin Rahic. The signs of improvement at Blackpool were overshadowed by a late collapse. Meanwhile the spotlight of the chairman’s methods has moved to the national stage, with negative coverage appearing on Quest and within the pages of the Daily Star and Daily Mail.

The outgoing chief operating officer, James Mason, revealed on Twitter he is not being asked for advice, despite the club previously stating they would be using him as a consultant. Glenn Ackroyd, a former associate director, also used social media to reveal advice he offered to Rahic that had been ignored. And the former fitness coach, Chris Short, told the Blackpool Gazette he quit the Bantams during the summer because of Rahic.

It has been a public relations nightmare for Rahic. With more and more Bradford City supporters turning on the joint owner, the revelations – and threats on Twitter from other ex-employees of more to come – have added to the storm. WOAP understands the Daily Star piece, penned by Jeremy Cross, did contain some inaccuracies; but the damning picture it paints largely fits with what sources have told ourselves and others. It would appear that all is far from well behind the scenes. The struggles of the team on the pitch mirroring the way it is operating off the field.

The turnover of staff has been immense. Rahic has argued that the different culture and strategic approach he wants to instil means there was always going to be changes, but even replacements don’t seem to last long, and some positions aren’t replaced at all. Since Rahic and Stefan Rupp bought the club in May 2016, WOAP understands the club has employed three secretaries, four kit men, three accountants – plus, of course, David Hopkin is the fifth different manager/head coach. The stadium manager has left; the player’s liaison officer disappeared and hasn’t been fully replaced. A series of development squad coaches have departed. Members of the commercial and media team have also left – sources close to them suggesting they didn’t want to go.

It has been no better on the pitch. Since the start of the 2016/17 season, an amazing 72 different players have featured for Bradford City. The side that did so well to reach Wembley in 2017 was dismantled too easily, and even the summer disassemble of last season’s under-performing squad was arguably too severe.

Only three players who have figured this season were at the club at the start of 2018. Nathaniel Knight-Percival is the only player to have lasted the Rahic and Rupp reign. As for the European contacts the club was supposed to benefit from, it has been a story of failure with Vincent Rabiega, Rouven Sattelmaier, Lukas Raeder, Lachlan Barr and Joel Grodowski arriving and quickly exiting without making an impact. There are few signs, yet, that it will be any different for Kai Bruenker and Thomas Isherwood. Just how costly were these blunders?

In the press conference unveiling of David Hopkin as head coach, Rahic admitted that as an owner he will be judged on his decisions. Those decisions don’t look clever so far. It is hard to look at his leadership as anything but counter-productive to Bradford City’s progress. He and Rupp played a part in taking the club to within one game of promotion to the Championship, but since that May 2017 play off final defeat the club has gone backwards and fallen apart. The one positive is that WOAP understands that Rahic recognises he needs to take a step back, instead of the alleged over-bearing approach that sees him repeatedly accused of meddling with first team affairs. But has it come too late?

Over the last two weeks, Bradford City has seemingly dangled on the edge of a cliff, just one more stumble away from self-implosion. Anger and disillusionment amongst fans has given rise to talk of protests, and at Bloomfield Road there was the first airing of “Rahic out” chants.

Sacking Michael Collins afforded Rahic a window – the smallest of windows – to steer the club away from civil war, temporarily delaying the launch of protest action. But it needs a short-term, immediate bounce of results to bring a level of calmness. Losing to Blackpool in such a painful manner could prove a pivotal moment in the club’s modern history. Small margins, but crucially the Bantams fell on the wrong side of them. If City find themselves behind against Charlton on Saturday, the mood will turn very ugly. We could be about to fall off that cliff.

As fans we all have our own personal feelings on the situation. My own view is this. There are very serious, and very legitimate, reasons to be concerned about the future of the club. There are big, big questions over the leadership. It goes beyond winning and losing football matches, but right to the very soul of what Bradford City stands for, and the kind of club we fans believe City should be. The disillusionment and worry that people feel is rational and sensible, and that should guide our course of action.

Protests can get ugly. They can get hijacked by emotion, which can undermine the cause. Some people could use them as a platform for violence, or to promote a racist agenda. Even if it doesn’t sink to those depths, a protest could hurt the endeavours of David Hopkin and the players. At the very least, a protest needs to be carefully organised, and at its heart should remain peaceful and respectful. Right now, it’s highly questionable if an organised protest could even be arranged, simply because no City supporter group organisation has yet shown any willingness to pick up the baton of leading a fan movement.

It also needs to be clear what, we as fans, want to achieve. Is it to try to force a change of ownership, or a change of approach from the owners? Rahic and Rupp both state they are here for the long-term and have no intention to sell, so going down the route of trying to drive them out could be ugly, long-lasting and damaging to the club. Witnessing the scene in and around Bloomfield Road on Saturday, what Blackpool supporters are trying to do to unseat their own owners is laudable. But it inflicts a lot of pain on their club and on the majority of fans, who no longer go and watch their team. And even more depressingly, they’ve not yet succeeded in achieving a change of ownership.

My own view is that we should first be looking to campaign for a change in the ownership approach. When I’ve sat down with Rahic and heard his views and philosophies, most are difficult to disagree with. But the club is lacking the ability, expertise and experience to bring them to life and to implement them successfully. The owners need to open the doors not close them. Appoint the right people – then trust them. Seek advice and different perspectives. Engage with fans. Make them feel included. Respect what they have to say. Be open and humble. Bring back some personality to the club. Embrace the history and traditions of Bradford City. Recognise why people are passionate Bradford City fans, and do everything you can to encourage it.

A campaign for a change of ownership approach could be achieved through making a peaceful statement. For example, I quite like the idea of a designated five minute period in a home game where as fans we all chant and cheer on the team loudly and enthusiastically – to demonstrate how wonderful the club can be, and the importance of fans. Followed by a five minute period of silence, or retreating to the concourse, to highlight the risks of an eroding supporter base and of people turning their back on the club. It could be very powerful. And, importantly, it doesn’t have to get personal.

Ultimately, what we are asking of our owners is realistic and fair-minded. We are not demanding Premier League football or expensive signings. We just want a club we can relate to and feel proud of. Rahic and Rupp might be the owners, but there are thousands of us who feel as though we own a part of the club too. That this is every bit our institution as well. And the anger comes from the prospect that someone is hurting our club, or operating in a way that ignores our views and leaves us feeling irrelevant.

Without supporters, the owners have nothing. We are the biggest asset they have. The number one determinant between success and failure. And if they don’t believe that, they need to watch videos of the Chelsea or Aston Villa games. Revel not just in the heroic player performances but the intense backing from fans that took them to such heights. Lose that, lose everything.

As fans we have a duty to be respectful and to not let emotion cloud our next moves. We have every right to be upset with the way Bradford City is operating, and it should be shown in calm, measured and responsible ways, so our views cannot be ignored.

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Categories: Opinion

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33 replies

  1. What have we got to lose now as supporters.
    Any protest must be organised by the ST …BE PEACEFUL and above all else get our point across.
    Next season’s season tkt sales will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back for Mr Rahic.
    I still remember watching Bradford at home with just 6k supporters in valley parade… that’s what will happen if our owner’s don’t get some experienced help and know how in the boardroom .
    Mr Rahic has put in millions of his own money to buy his dream of owning football club… if he’s not careful… it will be his worst nightmare.
    Good leaders trust there judgement in appointing staff and letting them get on with it.
    Whilst been there to support and help when needed.
    Seems to me it’s the Rahic way or the door is shown.

  2. I’m not sure he can back off – leopards never chamge their spots!

    I’ve worked for micro managing megalomaniacs before, they are relentless and never give up in their approach. They don’t care who they upset, it’s like they have no comprehension of human emotion. And in doing so they destroy you mentally!

    He needs to go full stop!

    RAHIC OUT!!

    • I personally feel we have gone down the path of no return under the present owners. The above post was spot on about the micro management method these type of people find so difficult to operate in any other way and do not value other peoples opinions. Absolute power never works it leads to conflict and hurt just what City fans are feeling at present about the Club we all love so much . A change of ownership is the only way out of this.

  3. Peaceful protest yes
    but give your full support to the players on the pitch
    Getting up and leaving you’re seat and going to the concourse does not help the players

  4. A well balanced piece espicially withdrawing support to the concourse whilst the game has started. However, the long list of damage inflicted on the club by Rahic due his ad hoc approach to running a football club is rapidly killing Bradford City. This is Rahic last chance to take a step back and rethink his philosphy and approach to stop the club from sinking deeper into oblivion. How’s Rahic going to do this? He’s pushed every last person with years of knowlege and experience out of the club. In effect there’s only himself and Abbott left which doesnt fill me with any hope for the future.

    Hopkin has a massive job on his hands with a squad put together by the 2 constants at the club and here in lies the problem for me. If Hopkin can turn things around on the playing side and lead us to a mid table finish it will be a massive achievement. If city are relegated there will be a mass exodus and we will be left where we were pre cheap season ticket era with 8k fans struggling to survive as tier 4 club.

    This is crucial period for the club and failure to keep city up is unthinkable. I feel our best hopes are pinned on a local consortium buying out the 2 chairman and giving usour identity and dignanty of our club back.

  5. I’d like to see some kind of offer to the fans to buy into Bradford City.
    Swansea did have something along those lines and it seemed to really kick the club into success.
    Maybe Mark Lawn and supporters could look at structure to how it could work .
    Let’s say we have chairman and board of directors… with the supporters who buy into ownership having representatives of who we choose to represent our shares ?.
    I’d buy into this idea with maybe as many supporters as can afford put in £500 … ?

  6. My own thoughts are that a highly visual and easily organised organised show of unity between the split supporters should be achieved this Saturday
    I have been promoting linking our scarves which if a lot of fans did, would be effective. We then need the supporters grouos to organise a phased demonstration and maybe a big effort for the Sunderland home game. At the very least it would be a sign that Rahic has not split us as he seems to enjoy and might even get back to Rupp. I think the key to all of this us via Rupp who may not even know the extent of the fans feelings.

  7. On the 24th May 2016, Rahic was recorded as making this comment, “We do not have plans to make big changes but to work with the existing structure. We have seen the way the club and fans interact and the model of affordable football is very important to us”.
    A very straightforward and reassuring remark. Something to set the tone and ethos of their ownership.
    However the ensuing period has not seen ‘evolution’ but rather ‘revolution’, with virtually everything and everyone involved in the club, going in the ensuing 27 months.
    In my view this has been a chaotic process, which has damaged the very core of Bradford City, which sadly is in danger of becoming another club, which is mired by the total breakdown between the vast majority of supporters and the owners.
    Hopkins may have the necessary skills to produce a winning side, but if he is constantly undermined, then he will surely fail.
    Now is the time for Rahic, to stand back, appoint staff with the appropriate relevant skills, to run the club, his over involvement is alienating just about everyone. If he will not listen and learn, then perhaps Rupp is the only one who can communicate with him on a level which he will respond to.
    Time for Stefan Rupp to stand up and realise that this cannot go on!

  8. Excellent and well reasoned. Totally agree. We cannot go on like this.

  9. Even were we to accrue a few results and climb the table the damage as been done for me. A legacy of treating people poorly. Enough time to learn from mistakes, saying they have, yet continuing down their destructive path.

    The upshot is thst they have no idea how to run a football club. The disregard for the club and fans shows this regardless of a the changes in personnel.

    We need him gone to gain back some form if identity, hope and simple common decency.

    EDIN OUT

  10. The man we need to concentrate on is Stefan Rupp, he has the biggest investment in the club. Rahic will run for the hills if there is a sustained demonstration, as he did last year. Rupp cannot be blind to what is happening and he needs to get a grip, or sell. The problem is that Rupp is more interested in motor racing, we are lead to believe, but he must see or get feedback to show that his investment is on very shaky ground with Rahic running it as he does. Surely when he sees us at the bottom end of the table and the massive disconnect with the fans, you would think that he would take action

    • How can we contact Rupp directly as he never seems to be at VP? Can WOAP help? I have written to Rahic several times.

    • Agree – Rupp holds the purse strings and as the man who stumped up most the cash to buy City, could be the only person capable of making (or forcing) Rahic to change his approach to running the club?
      Ideally, any protest would happen when Rupp was at a game. As we don’t know how much of the current unrest he is privy to, it might come as a shock to him to see organised demonstrations by supporters?
      I think we’re a few more games away from organised revolt against the current regime. As Jason stated in his post – no one group (or groups) has picked up the baton to lead and organise a coordinated protest.
      That could leave a gap to be exploited by small groups of fans, which may be embarrassing to the majority because of their agenda and how they make their point. If they get in there first then Rahic could go AWOL like he did following McCall’s sacking. That would scupper larger protests which have the support of the majority of fans.
      One thought – how about inviting German TV along to a protest? They were keen to run pieces about the club when our owners took over. They may be interested to do a follow-up about how it’s gone sour? Coverage in R&Rs native country might not be welcomed by them, especially if they think they can keep the negative PR confined to the UK.

  11. Stay away or demonstrate loudly but peacefully. Any fragmented, halfway house, wishwashy effort is a waste of time. Don’t worry about the effect on the players. They appear to have shown little motivation, even with the crowd on their side.

    The French are experts in sorting out disputes like this, swiftly!

  12. I’ve yet to see any evidence that Rahic can ‘wind his neck in’. He fancies himself as someone with both the knowledge and skills required to run an entire professional football club, from top to bottom. Without any evidence that he knows what he’s doing thus far. The arrival and departure of 4 accountants highlights what employees are up against. He can’t step away and employ people that do know what they’re doing, because that means not being involved or in control. How far do supporters let the club slide before attempting to remove him?

  13. Too late, I want them gone

    • The only trouble is; do they want to go, or is there anyone out there prepared to take over from them?
      We have to accept that R&R own the club and as Jason says, at this stage make it clear we want Rahic to take a step back and let others help run the club.
      There’s no point campaigning for them to go, if there’s no one out there willing and financially able to replace them.

  14. The levels of worry around us at the moment are as high as I can remember, even during the administrations there didn’t seem to be this much upset. Your article describes exactly the thoughts of many of us.
    I can’t help but feel that the drama created around this situation has also been exasperated by the rise and rise of social media and comments sections giving way to rumours and speculation, when we all want and need are the facts. The drama, the use of fake accounts, the one-upmanship of some fans in this whole situation is not helping us.

    We really need to get over our petty squabbles and “opinions” and come to an agreed way forward as a group of supporters, including calling out these so called fake fans that are only making the situation more difficult to navigate through. This isn’t fun.

    The next steps of Bantam Progressivism is to unify the split in us fans, if we don’t have the benefit of the club backing us as fans, then we need to start to back each other. Come Together at all costs!

  15. Rupp can be emailed from the Fischer Seats website.

  16. I do get the impression that Rahic is a bit of a tool and doesn’t show respect e.g. The way he spoke to Hendrie and clearly Short however I don’t like the accusation which goes around that he is trying to ruin us. If he was doing that why would he have spent a lot of money over the summer on the pitch where other owners have overlooked the issue? Why would we be buying players on fees, for example E. Doyle, Wood, Riley, Scannell?

    Transfer committee – I can understand why Edin wants to be apart of it. He’s put all his money into this club and its only fair that he wants to know where it’s going. However I feel he plays too major a role and I agree with Jason that he needs to adapt. By the sounds of things Hopkin wont allow him to interfere which is good. This nonsense about the summer signings – it was said by Grayson that whether he is here or not that signings over the summer would be discussed prior to the end of season. Abbot would have played a big part in transfers. Signings also had to be made due to the transfer window ending earlier this summer. We couldn’t wait for a manager or we’d miss out on players.

    We cannot say now as fans that the summer exodus was too severe. Loads of fans were calling for the team to be sold between January and the end of the season. The Kilgallon sale seems odd. However it looks like to me that Collins was trying to stamp his mark on the team. I don’t think Edin would have been against the sale of Kilgallon as he would be a big wage player for us and would be a way of clearing the books.

    Colin Doyle clearly wanted more money than he was offered however Rahic was right to not bow down to Doyle as players at League 1 are not irreplaceable.

    It’s a shame that the core of the team of 2016/17 was dismantled however I don’t think Rahic could have a lot more. Meredith and Marshall were never going to stay if we didn’t get promoted. Same goes for Cullen who wasn’t going to come back on loan unless we were in the Championship. McArdle is where we missed out. But if Scunthorpe offers extortionate wages, we won’t be able to match that. I think that summer with the core of the XI leaving was unfortunate.

    I don’t want you to believe that I am totally pro Rahic as I am not. The appointment of Collins was extremely poor and shows that no one wanted the package that Rahic was offering. This “gamble” hasn’t paid off and hopefully you are right and that he has seen that he needs to take a step back from the football side of things.

    On McCall. I feel that he was sacked prematurely and hindsight has shown that City didn’t improve. However if it was any other manager he would be sacked too. Losing 6 on the trot is sackable form in modern day football and that cannot be argued with. Something obviously happened with Hendrie and after analysing it all that is where I believe something changed for the whole squad. Luke Hendrie was a squad player and this has shown to be the same for him at Shrewsbury. Rahic obviously lacks respect in the way he speaks however I feel McCall wanted Hendrie to stay due to friendship. He’s not exactly lighting it up at Shrewsbury.

    This has been long winded, however to sum up I feel Rahic needs to adapt in order for us to go forward again. However we are not on the “road to ruin” as I feel Rahic’s intentions are good. It’s disappointing and annoying that we didn’t kick on after the 2016/2017 season however as we all know sometimes you need to take a couple of steps back in order to go forward.

    Let’s get behind the lads this Saturday in full voice. C’mon City!!!

    • Whilst each incident you describe can, in isolation, seem justified it is the sum total of them all which is the problem. If Meredith, Marshall and Cullen are all leaving wouldn’t you push the boat out for McArdle to keep some semblance of stability ? It is quite staggering to learn that in just over 2 seasons we’ve had 72 players – particularly when you consider the ones we started with were pretty decent !

      You also didn’t mention the seemingly endless list of departures of the back office staff – quite a lot of them seeming to choose unemployment over continuing to work for Bradford City. Any business with that amount of staff turnover has clearly got a problem.

      As you say it would be strange to invest all your money just to destroy something so if Edin isn’t ill-intentioned the best you can say is that he is extremely incompetent.

      I guess that’s marginally better…but not much..

      • The only two people with job security at Bradford City are Rahic and his wife. That says it all.

      • No I wouldn’t have pushed the boat out for McArdle as that would break the wage structure. The way I see it and I hope I’m right is that Rahic came with this philosophy, he’s been stubborn to it but it’s shown to be wrong. Hopefully he adapts and takes a step back. I just don’t think he’s ill-intentioned.

        He’s sacked Collins which is hopefully a realisation that he’s got it wrong. Time will tell.

        I am worried about the turnover of staff and like I said at the start, I think he’s a bit of a tool who thinks he knows more about football than he does. The weird one with Short is that he’s gone to Blackpool who’s owner is one of the biggest con men in the Football League.

        We’re at the start of Hopkin’s tenure so we need to give it a few weeks before we get a clearer picture of what has happened lately.

    • McCall’s sacking wasn’t just down to the problems on the pitch was it? Yes, our form was terrible in January and February, but the squad had not been strengthened in the transfer window, and the team had downed tools for whatever reason. There was clearly something going on behind the scenes. There were rumours of wages/bonus’ not being paid on time. For McCall to be sacked after six games of defeats even though we’d hardly been out of the play-offs during his tenure just proves that Rahic was dying to get rid of him.

      Look at all the winless runs Parkinson had in his time with us. Nearly every season we’d go through a two month spell where we’d only pick up a couple of points. A sackable offence in any chairmans book! But we stuck with him and we improved season on season. He had the same winless runs at Bolton and look how he’s done there. He’s performed a bloody miracle.

      I always said that if we were better off in February 2019 than February 2018, then it was the correct decision to sack McCall, even though i was dead against his sacking. At this moment in time it looks as though we’re gonna be in a relegation scrap, and Mr Rahic has made one massive cock up which could cost him and Mr Rupp massively

    • Any manager with a team in a play off position as Stuart managed would have been properly supported and the team strengthened in the January window, however a successful McCall meant the Rahic blueprint could never have been adopted…no one can tell me that there wasn’t a part of Rahic that wanted Stuart to fail…and played his cards accordingly. Utterly unforgivable.

  17. Season ticket sales will fall yet again, clubs like Bradford need this revenue from grass roots supporters. This is a vainity project set to fail. The value of the club will collapse and then they will finally leave..

  18. Clearly Herr Rahic by issuing his statement, has begun to realise that the storm, which has been brewing for weeks, was going to break this Saturday if things didn’t seriously improve on the pitch.
    Maybe it was a genuine act of contrition or just a clever PR stunt to take some of the heat out of the ground swell of discontent? If so , its a cynical, if somewhat, clever move on his part.

  19. Just simply had enough, too much water has passed under the bridge now, and all this coming out and apologising this evening on the Rahic Statement on Club website before Saturday’s game is just trying to buy time before the uprising that is coming His way, All I can say Edin is good luck on Saturday with Our Fantastic Fans, because it is coming Big Time, You have invested in the wrong type of club, You should have done a bit more ground work before your purchase & plans for this type of Club.

    I TELL YOU NOW AND EVERY FAN AT THIS CLUB WILL AGREE, THIS CLUB IS DIFFERENT TO ANY OTHER CLUB YOU COULD HAVE EVER PURCHASED, BECAUSE ON THAT AWFUL DAY ON 11 May 1985 THIS CLUB CHANGED FOREVER.

    EVERY SINGLE FAN & THEIR CHILDREN WHO CONTINUE TO FOLLOW IN THEIR PARENTS FOOTSTEPS, COME TO VALLEY PARADE TO WATCH THEIR TEAM WITH THE HISTORY & MEMORIES.

    WE ARE ALL UNITED AS BRADFORDIANS WITH THE HONOUR TO SHARE THE NOISE WITH THE NEVER FORGOTTEN 56 SOULS. THAT IS WHY THIS IS A SPECIAL PLACE.

    I get a shiver right through me when I hear the noise from Our Fantastic Fans, it is like someone is turning the volume up sometimes. WE NEED TO HEAR THAT NOISE AGAIN,

    Just do the correct thing, if this is too much to take on, then I am sure you can get your investment back and move onto a club with a different kind of history.

    THE BRADFORDIANS MAKE THE CLUB.

    END.

  20. Excellent Post Anon.

    We watch our football with the souls of the 56 in mind every minute of every game.
    Edin will never ever understand this…..!!
    He’s a bully and a fool…..!!

    Rahic OUT….!!

  21. Thank you Will Wade for the most reasoned and sensible comment about Rahic for a long time. A man who has made mistakes but is not some evil force. I don’t doubt that he wants to run a successful club and I hope he succeeds.
    At this point, I am prepared to accept that he has learned some lessons. I believe that the way forward is not boycotts, typing things in CAPITAL LETTERS or refusals to accept a different point of view but to get behind the team. David Hopkin seems a good signing, our squad seems capable of doing better than it is. 2018 has been a disaster and will spill over to the end of this season.
    So, assuming we survive the fallout of these mistakes and avoid relegation, 2019-20 is the season I will make a definitive judgement as to whether Rahic has learned those lessons or if we would be better off if he walked away.
    Many have had enough already.

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