By Jason McKeown
Bradford City head coach David Hopkin’s backroom reshuffle continues to gather pace, and WOAP understands that head of recruitment Greg Abbott is set to leave the club in the coming days.
The 54-year-old has until recently held the role of assistant manager to Hopkin, alongside Martin Drury. However, Hopkin is keen to finally bring in his own people, and Abbott’s likely departure will follow last week’s exit of goalkeeping coach Steve Banks. It was already confirmed earlier this week that Abbott would no longer be assisting Hopkin, instead moving back to head of recruitment. In recent weeks, Abbott hasn’t been present on a matchday anyway, scouting future City opposition.
The fact Abbott is likely to no longer be head of recruitment underlines the changing approach overseen by the returning Julian Rhodes. And it reiterates Stefan Rupp’s statement that Hopkin will be in full control of transfers when the January window opens. During his time as chairman of City, Rhodes worked very closely with managers to secure the transfer targets they had identified, and it is said he and Phil Parkinson forged a particularly strong partnership. Part of Rhodes’ consultancy role is to do the same for Hopkin.
So with the City head coach calling the shots on signings, and Rhodes providing the required support, there ultimately isn’t a role for Abbott.
On both a personal and professional level, 2018 has been a tough year for Greg Abbott. Last Spring he was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer and spent time away from the club receiving treatment. As Tony McMahon stated at the recent Stephen Darby appreciation night, the difficult circumstances around the club saw Abbott rushed back into work when he should really have been allowed to recover for much longer. For example, McMahon revealed that it was Abbott, rather than Rahic, who called the player to inform him that he would not be offered a new contract.
Whilst all City fans wished Abbott well through his health problems, he has not escaped criticism for the club’s dismal record in the transfer market over the past 18 months. The fact he has seemingly remained loyal to Rahic hasn’t aided his standing either.
Abbott, who played for the Bantams with great distinction during the eighties, had re-joined the club in the summer of 2016 to head up recruitment, shortly after Edin Rahic and Stefan Rupp’s purchase of Bradford City, and Stuart McCall’s arrival as head coach. He held a key role in the transfer committee approach instigated by Rahic, with his knowledge of the lower leagues vital; especially given McCall, who had been working in Scotland for several years, did not initially have the same breadth of knowledge.
For a time, the transfer committee approach seemed to work well. Abbott and others chipped in with names during the summer of 2016, and City made a number of eye-catching signings that helped them reach the play off final. Perhaps most notably of all was Abbott’s successful capture of Charlie Wyke in January 2017, who would go on to be sold for a significant profit.
But there’s no getting away from the fact recruitment hasn’t worked out since the play off final defeat. Abbott is perhaps unfairly blamed too much for this – at WOAP we regularly heard rumours that his list of targets was getting overlooked and/or undermined by Rahic. But, ultimately, the transfer committee model has failed at City. The desire to keep it going in the summer led to the farcical appointment of Michael Collins, and the lack of character and identity of the current squad is damning on all those who helped to bring it together.
Nevertheless Abbott’s contribution to Bradford City over the decades should not be forgotten. When I interviewed him for Who We Are he declared, “I don’t think I’ve been heavily criticised too many times in my period of being 17 years old to where I am now – and for that I owe Bradford, the fans and the club a great deal of thanks. Because it’s probably made me the type of person I am. All my children are born and bred in this city and we’ve been made to feel very welcome. And for that I think I owe them.”
This is set to be an unhappy ending to what has been a difficult chapter. But whatever Abbott’s own failings over the past 18 months, there have been much bigger failings from the guy above him. Abbott deserves credit for everything he has given to the club since 2016 – especially when his health was on the line.
Will drury be going as well then. He ain’t done much . The last of the legends to go
Thanks Abbo always held in high esteem with the proper city fans and good health going forward . 👊👍
Just Edin’s departure to follow. Best of Luck Greg. Always a city legend.
Just Rahic to go now … earlier today there was strong rumours Rahic was on his way out the club
I do feel sorry for Abbo. I think he was as committed to the club as anyone. His knowledge of the lower league players helped City recruit when McCall first took charge under the Germany owners.
However I believe as time moved on he was restricted in what he could do and who he wanted to sign.
A sad end really for as a player he was a great servant.
Those who remember him as a player wish we had a few Abbo’s in our team today.
Farewell Greg and good luck for the future.
Presumably they need a chief scout though. I don’t see that a manager has the capacity to do that, unless he brings in his own man for that, six weeks before a crucial transfer window.
Echo the comments above on Greg himself. A great servant of the club, and sad to see him go in this way.
Must have been extremely difficult for Greg, watching the club he loves ripped apart, almost worse if much of he was trying to achieve was overlooked, overruled or blocked by someone whose knowledge is far less than his. Good luck Greg
All the very best Greg for you’re future. True city fans knows what a player you was , you gave 100% as a player but this past 18 months have not been kind to you. We feel sorry for you. Rahic should hang his head in shame and go too.
Good luck Abbo. You were part of that great City team of of my youth in the mid 80s that I loved so much and that produced so many City favourites.
Good luck Greg. Anybody who saw his interview at Wembley (pre match i think) with his voice cracking with emotion will realise how much the club still means to him. Few (if any) fans are in a position to judge Abbbo’s performance from the outside. It is also grossly unfair to criticise him for sticking with the club through a difficult period
I would simply add. I wish we had a player like Abbo in the team at the moment.
If we had 11 Abbos we would be top.of the league.
Thanks Greg, i would never question your commitment to City
It must have been an impossible job
If it’s true good luck and thanks for many happy memories from his playing days. Shame it’s ending like this. I feel a bit unfair to say: ‘The fact he has seemingly remained loyal to Rahic hasn’t aided his standing either’ – Rahic’s his boss! If only we had an Abbo now.
Exactly. He has a living to earn and probably does not have the luxury of just throwing his job in
Im not saying I agree personally with that sentiment but that is how some fans have viewed it
If somebody is in a job but does not agree with their boss but has a mortgage and living to make in a very precarious industry one sometimes has to bite the bullet.Suck the hammer.Gregg will always love Bradford City after 35 years of being close to the place.Things have gone wrong now.11 months ago most folk did not know of the atmosphere been worked in.They do now.It has been unfair for folk to say Gregg knifed Stu or Gregg should not have shown loyalty to Edin.He loves Bradford City and probably stayed hoping somehow things would change.They have now and it looks like control is changing too.
As head scout you must take the blame for the recruitment in some way shape or form… A fumigation was needed to Oust the rot and Abbott must go.. He’s Not the player he once was a ‘no nonsense’ take no shit player.. good luck in your next endeavour bye Gregg
No one knows what influence Mr I know football wielded
I wouldn’t put my name to ‘bad work’ would you? He had the option to leave like others did.. He must take responsibility as head scout or admit he was a puppet
All the best Greg, in both health and professional endeavours….a true City legend.
With a heavy heart I am sorry he is leaving.I have known him over 30 years as a never say die character who first turned up to VP wearing NHS glasses held together with a bit of elastoplast.The image belied the character.Its right he should take credit for signings with Stuart as PP”s departure seemed just a minor blip in the progress.Its right that some criticism should be levied in the 40 odd names we now see as Bradford City players.Quite how much influence he had we will perhaps never know.My guess is constrained severely by interference.He leaves on a low.He went through the Docherty era so knows all about a change in mood and spirit destroying momentum.He bounced back with Dolley as Hull City captain.Terry Dolan knew his character.This period will not stain my feeling for Gregg Abbott.Someone who never gives in.It says much about him that he returned to work (which was in absolute chaos) when many would have picked up Statutory Sick Pay with prostrate cancer.Feeling sad.
I spoke to Gregg about a month ago and his love for the club was obvious. We talked “football” and his closing words were, “you know I love being here despite all the current problems, and I want to stay here the rest of my working life”. Given the industry, that was a somewhat ambitious thing to say.
He must have worked under difficult conditions and I wish him all the best, healthwise and careerwise.
Just a scape goat for Rahic, lets face it. Good luck & health Greg.
One more to go – Mr Edin Rahic – Then we can all sing and dance, to the end of a shambolic interferring stupid start to the season.
At last going back to basics, the way we all know that works with the gaffer picking players to climb out of this hole, get a target man for Doyle to play off, I know one who we had and won 9 out of 10 headers week in week out.
Onwards and upwards, I am starting to feel more positive now.
You imagine the BUZZ around the stadium – if the next announcement is Rahic has left the club by mutual consent………..
I wish Abbott would let all the city fans what is going on behind closed doors, like all chairmen they pay them off not to reveal the truth and goings on, Mcall parkinson never said what happened with the German’s, its obvious they are milking the club to pay the loan money the took out to buy the club, sooner the German’s go the better