By Jason McKeown
The end is in sight. The secret is out. After weeks of speculation, it has been strongly reported that Edin Rahic will be leaving Bradford City. The 45-year-old has been under severe pressure for weeks over his dismal leadership of the club, and will officially leave after finalising terms with his co-investor, Stefan Rupp.
Rupp is expected to be in West Yorkshire next week. Talks between the pair might not take place then, as Rahic isn’t currently around. Rupp will be seeking to provide supporters with assurances that he will continue to fund the troubled club, with rumours of administration wide of the mark.
Rupp has plenty to prove in terms of his commitment. But in his defence, he has been badly led down by his partner. For now, Rupp will be heavily reliant on Julian Rhodes to continue running the club.
The imminent departure of Rahic will mark the end of an extraordinary 30-month period in charge. He will undoubtedly go down as the worst chairman in the history of Bradford City, after dismantling a successful club that was closing in on a place in the Championship, to the shell of an outfit today that is in all likelihood going to be relegated to League Two.
The scale of City’s implosion, under Rahic’s watch, is truly remarkable. When he and Rupp bought the club in May 2016 from Mark Lawn and Julian Rhodes, City had just improved their league position for the fourth season in a row, losing to Millwall in the League One play off semi finals. Rahic and Rupp inherited the most successful City manager in more than a decade, and a group of players who had made stunning history with the club, and who were tremendously popular amongst fans.
It was hoped that the new investment would provide that extra push needed for the Bantams to take the leap into the Championship, and Rahic’s ideas and aspirations certainly seemed to marry up with that. He talked of a long-term, sustainable approach. Of investing more into youth development; encouraging the manager to bring through more young players. Even the transfer committee approach – a growing feature of modern football – seemed sensible.
Rahic was initially warmly welcomed by most and rightly so. It is all very well to act wise after the event, and to suggest there should have been a greater level of distrust. But would that really have been a good look for Bradford City? That we are suspicious of outsiders? The German approach, and with it the opening up of new contacts and ideas, was something to be excited by. And that’s how most of us felt. No one should feel guilty about giving him a chance.
Clearly Phil Parkinson saw what was ahead. WOAP understands he had only one meeting with Rahic before concluding his future lay elsewhere. So off he went to Bolton, with most of the club’s coaching staff, creating a true baptism of fire for Rahic and Rupp. The move to bring in Stuart McCall was a populist one, but absolutely the right call. No other candidate would have united fans to the same level.
And for a while the new-look Bradford City worked. On the outside, the arrival of Greg Abbott as head of recruitment, working closely with McCall, seemed a masterstroke. City began the 2016/17 unbeaten for nearly three months, and would only lose seven times all season as they repeated the previous year’s fifth place finish. McCall improved the playing style and the season was one of the most enjoyable I’ve ever watched.
Yet behind the scenes, whispers that not all was well cropped up on occasions. Rahic was said to be over-bearing in style, attempting to dictate tactics, penalty takers and training approach to McCall. It is also claimed he was also trying to exert too much influence over signings.
Some of Rahic’s training ideas were said to be farcical, but did at least help foster team spirit. Rahic, who had an office at the training ground (complete with tactics board) would regularly come out to watch the team train. The story goes that, when he did, McCall would get the players to pretend they were undertaking one of Rahic’s strange ideas, struggling to keep straight faces, before Edin departed and then they could go back to what the professionals thought they should be doing.
Crucially, Rahic put pressure on McCall to be more and more attacking. He grew increasingly frustrated by the large number of draws the club achieved that season, urging McCall to be bolder with the proviso that going for a win was worth risking losing the game.
It all came to a head at Sheffield United on Easter Monday. City were virtually guaranteed a play off spot, but travelled to the Champions with faint hopes of still being able to snatch second spot from Parkinson’s Bolton. To do so they had to beat Sheffield United, so McCall picked a bold, attack-minded team. Sheffield United took advantage of City’s openness to easily win 3-0. After the game, Rahic allegedly blasted McCall for being too adventurous.
It meant that even the enjoyment of securing a play off spot the week after, following a 3-0 win over Wimbledon, was tempered by the friction behind the scenes. Ultimately, City fell juat short of promotion after losing the play off final. Rahic asked McCall to quit. McCall understood, but did not want to resign. Fearful of how bad it would look to sack McCall, Rahic agreed a truce. From that point on, relations marginally improved.
Yet the seeds of the decline on the field began that summer. Rahic and Rupp had failed to tie down the club’s history makers on new deals, and they would all depart during the summer, their market value boosted by the excellent season under McCall. The replacements were inferior and the first half of the 2017/18 saw sharper ups and downs. Nevertheless, McCall kept City in the top six until he was sacked in February.
If the summer of 2017 wasn’t great from Rahic, the January window of 2018 only accelerated the implosion. He had talked boldly of City challenging for the top two and signing the highly rated Kieffer Moore for reasonable money, only for a long drawn out delay in strengthening the team that left McCall with Kai Bruenker as his badly needed striker.
Meanwhile Rahic’s actions were alienating the squad. The timing of the Luke Hendrie saga – where Rahic allegedly refused to pay a miniscule transfer fee to secure the long-term services of the on loan defender – damaged morale. There was a heavily rumoured fall out between players and owner over bonuses. Other behind-the-scenes staff departed under a cloud, with many complaining about their treatment from Rahic. In a close-knit organisation of relatively few employees, such a stream of departures was keenly felt.
An injury crisis left McCall without full backs and his goalkeeper. The loss of form on the pitch put everyone under pressure. And whilst McCall was not flawless it was nonsense to blame it all at his door. Despite having the best City managerial win ratio in 30 years, Rahic gave him the boot. The first genuine period of difficult form since McCall had become manager. It was a harsh call.
The sacking of McCall has clearly haunted Rahic. He never recovered from it. He was never able to get most fans back onside. His explanations for taking such action were unsatisfactory. And crucially, the team went into even more of a tailspin, with results getting worse and worse.
City were still in the top six when McCall was sacked, but would finish in 11th playing turgid football under Simon Grayson, who didn’t want the job. With actual attendances at Valley Parade falling drastically in the wake of a shocking 5-0 defeat at Blackpool, and commercial and season ticket revenue dropping, the season ended with dark clouds stuck over the club.
Still, the most recent summer offered Rahic a chance for redemption. For all the mistakes, for all the upset, he still had a chance to put it right. To appoint a proper manager and let them manage. To stop interfering with recruitment. To trust in staff across the club to do their jobs.
None of this happened. Instead, Rahic saw the clean slate as a chance to ramp up his vision and influence even further. A seven-week search for a replacement head coach looked desperate, but didn’t stop Rahic signing players while he waited. The utter nonsense of giving the job to the under 18s coach, who hadn’t even applied for the job, gave the whole thing a feeling of a huge gamble. Either Rahic was a genius and had got this spectacularly right, or we were heading for one almighty fall.
It was, of course, the latter that took place. Michael Collins struggled badly in the role of head coach, and was sacked after just six league games. David Hopkin was a more sensible appointment, seeking greater control, but the results continued to be poor. The lack of a fitness coach in the summer has been evident all season. The damage was done by a summer of woeful recruitment that Rahic clearly shoulders responsibility for. WOAP understands this is City’s largest playing budget in 15 years. Rupp certainly cannot be accused of under-funding the club.
By October, City had slumped to the bottom of League One. Rahic himself has not been seen at a match since he departed at half time of the 3-1 defeat to Accrington. At the time of his early exit, City were only a goal down but Rahic could probably see what was coming.
It is only in his prolonged absence that hope has started to return. This week’s Luton hammering aside, performances are improving. The return of Julian Rhodes – at Rupp’s request – has brought a calmness to the rudderless ship. Finally, there is some sanity at the top. It might have come too late to save the club from relegation and difficult times still lie ahead, but it gives us a chance to rebuild in the long-term.
Ultimately, Rahic’s tenure is a gross failure of leadership. He presented a vision, but lacked the ability and thought to deliver it. Instead of inspiring and entrusting those who worked for him, it is strongly claimed he micro-managed, marginalised and undermined them. His desire to be in control of everything robbed the club of its personality and character. And his poor communication skills meant there weren’t many people willing to defend him.
There are so many stories of Rahic’s conduct that have yet to come out in public. Little tales here and there of the madness of his approach. He did not know football. And his sheer arrogance of thinking he knew better than everyone else was ill-judged and destructive. He was given an incredible gift of a high-performing and truly special football club, and he tore it up.
It will take some time to fix the damage. For the club to get back to where it was. As the financial gap between the Championship and League One grows, it could also define our long-term future.
It is a story stranger than fiction. And one that, for Bradford City fans, would be firmly listed under horror. But at least this particular chapter is coming to an end.
I loved how our Katie was the co-author of the piece in the Daily Telegraph. : )
Good riddance Edin. Our club is no-one’s train set.
#Julian & Parki In!
I personally think Edin needs to go and Steffen Rupp needs to consider his future if he is committed 100% then all good and well but if he is going in half hearted he needs to sell to someone who wants a club and not for the wrong reasons someone who wants to drive the club forward and someone who will back us financially and take the club back to the top
Sorry, forgot to ask you Jason….
Can you expand on the horror stories and madness of his approach please. I think it would really help for everyone to truly understand how dysfunctional his tenure at our club was.
Amazing news, we can dare to start to hope again. As always a great write up but surely the title should simply be Edin towards the exit
It’s clear this man had a track record of failure to
lead and manage and direct!
He is incapable!
He will NEVER be welcome to set foot in Bradford again!
Talk Sport have announced there is big news coming from valley parade in the next few weeks.
I can only assume there is some kind of buy out and new owners arriving?.
Good riddance to Edin Rahic and soon I will crack out the cigars and very good bottle of wine … when it’s been officially announced he’s gone.
One man’s dream of owning football club became our worst nightmare.
A fair summary Jason of what has occured since the club changed hands. We can only look forward as fans and as a club.
Its been a desperate 11 months made all the more diffucult to swallow given the progress and promise of better times ahead against a back drop of fantastic progress post 2013.
Once Rahic has finally gone for good we can get back to the job in hand of moving the club forward. I cant believe all the good work and progress made has been dismantled by 1 mans total ineptitude, lack of respect and understanding for the clubs history and what it stands for.
I really hope the club can recover from this awful mans running of our club. The club was loved and respected up and down the country for been the plucky underdog whilst oosing character, fight and determination to suceed against all the odds.
You wont be missed Edin in the city of Bradford, not welcolmed nor missed at Valley Parade. Ive said it before but
“who will rid me of this turbulent priest?”
Step forward Mr Rupp. The man with a plan? Well already he had shown more nouse and hope than Edin ever has. This season is over and relegation looks a certainty but with the right people at the helm lets hope we can bounce back and rebuild the club in the image of a Bradford city fc we can be proud of and connect with again.
Can all ST holders please now return and can the £1 ticket remain for Walsall and Scunthorpe. We fesperately need six points from those 2.
Ding dong the Witch has gone, now let’s follow the Yellow brick building road.
I am so Happy it’s over, there is going to be a Great Buzz around now, positive energy we need right now, I hope this Good news is Big investment to quickly turn this around as we did not deserve all of this failure from the Fantastic progression Phil Parkinson did and McCall continued, true Legend’s here. We would be in the Championship now FACT, if Rahic kept is nose out.
Looking forward to the coming months now, instead of dreading them.
Also put a cheeky £20 on us to finish in top 12 at 66/1 so bring it on……..
Well Mr Rahic, how come you had the biggest budget in 15yrs and and leave us with the worst team in my long living memory. Anyway the fans are the football clubs heart, so we should all start beating the drum again about how special this club is, get back that togetherness, and put that extra effort in to show the team we’re worth playing for
Budgets mean nothing without leadership. Bury and MK went down last year with top seven budgets. Mk still run apparently a budget in excess of several Championship clubs.Continuing the Quid promotion would be a smart move
I feared for my club. Now Julian is back on board I’m a little bit more hopeful. Unfortunately I think to much damage has been done by Rahic. Looking ahead I think Hopkins is the right man to lead City into a new era. I just hope we can all get behind the new guys CTID x
I guess Stefan Rupp must also be feeling totally cheesed off. Too late he has realised just how much Edin has mislead him and mismanaged everything whilst losing him money and damaging his own reputation.
Belatedly Rupp appears to be taking more of an active interest. I just hope he is prepared to invest funds wisely to avoid any possibility of the club going into administration again. First test of his financial commitment will be apparent in the January transfer window. Fingers crossed!
I sat close to Edin at the Wimbledon victory, I assume this is the last/one of the last times he watched us live?
Another person sat even closer to him was a certain James Hanson. Ironically I believe JH’s story is one of the better decisions Edin made, however the rumours of the nature of his exit are yet another less favourable reflection on our club, via our joint owner.
IMO, Hanson is a legend of Bradford City football club. He’s another I would like to hear the opinion of, of the changes within following Edins arrival.
An excellent article as always. If we can somehow stave off relegation this season then hopefully we can avert the worst consequences of Rahic’s actions and start making progress again. But I’m curious. At the end of last season there were concerns that Rupp would not invest any more money and that the lower season ticket sales were hurting the budget. My question is, where has the money come from for the highest playing budget in 15 years? Did Rupp invest some more money after all, was there another, silent, investor, or have we borrowed this money?
Well written, Jason. To misquote Churchill: This is not the end, it is not the beginning of the end, it is possibly the end of the beginning. We are possibly on the road to recovery. But all depends on Rupp. I fear he might turn out not to be as dependable as we hope. But I hope I am wrong, or that someone else comes in.
These are still dark times, but not as dark as two weeks ago.
The budget this season has been so badly used. Individually the players may have skill sets and strengths, but this mix just doesn’t work. Exceptionally poor leadership. The man at the top of the operational side needs to go. The fact that he has ‘gone to ground’, is worrying and l fear he may drag his inevitable departure out as he tries to get every single Cent out of the club!
I’m hoping someone does some digging into our ‘ties’ with German football – while we were never going to sign Bundesliga players or take on Dortmund in a friendly, the quality of the players from Germany has been abysmal – nowhere near good enough for L1 / challenging for a Championship position. You were at least hoping for more scouting / networking /link ups in that market 30 months after they took over.
You wonder who recommended these players and on what basis – it wouldn’t surprise anyone if it was another Rahic yes man, or Rahic himself. And you then wonder how much has been paid in ‘agents’ fees for the privilege of these dreadful signings….
Then there was the farce of the friendly in Germany last year. One game against a local 8th division side or whatever it was – what a pointless exercise. Then we saw those cringeworthy scenes of players, staff and fans getting drunk together. Yeah, funny and a laugh at the time, but there were some (myself included) who questioned such antics, and used it sum up our whole involvement with German football.
To be fair, I think we have to give Rupp chance to do, what he says he is going to do, on his forthcoming visit. Rupp looks like he has been as much the victim as the fans have. As things stands, the club is near worthless and so not saleable, and Rupps only option is to try and rebuild the clubs status and so recover his potential loss. I am also very happy that he has not been frightened to ask someone with experience to come in and help and credit to Julian for stepping up and I hope he stays. I dont think we have seen the final model yet but I am far happier that Rahic is out of the picture and is soon to be assigned to history.
Fingers crossed the idiot has gone.
Until it’s official then watch this space ?
If it’s true, then then we might have a chance.
FIGHT FOR SURVIVAL !!!!
If this is a quatrain, it doesn’t rhyme.
Excellent, balanced article, Jason. We, and the whole club have been badly hurt and let down by Rahic’s so-called leadership. But our club doesn’t stand around pitying itself, rather it shows its inner strength and faces the future with hope, realism and optimism.
It will take time but let’s recognise this season is not yet lost but crucial to its outcome is home form, we saw what is possible, both on and off the pitch, last Saturday against Oxford.
Let’s give the players, manager, Julian Rhodes etc every support and then maybe come next May we can all rejoice in another great escape, in spite of the best efforts of the Butcher of Bradford to destroy the club.
My only concern as highlighted in the “Telegraph” article is the mans contract.Rupp as the paymaster will have the power to leave Rahic without a leg to stand on.He has indeed single handedly destroyed the alleged £5.2 Million investment the majority of which Mr Rupp funded.They sure overpaid for Bradford City and Mr Rupp is trapped.No chance of recovering his outlay this side of next Christmas.The only hope he has is to bring in people who will hopefully protect whats left of his investment.As he has done with Julian.It took the Rhodes family 13 years to recover some of their massive losses.It took a good manager and luck.2 trips to Wembley followed by a quarter final visit in the FA Cup the following season.Plus an undoubted £5 million in profit from selling Wells.(Unreported as the fee was).That stabalised.2 years in 100.Most of the time its a scrap to survive.At all football levels.