Relegation? It’s just a Matter of Farce

A sparse Valley Parade just before kick off

By Jason McKeown

Edin Rahic used to regularly boast that he didn’t understand how any team could ever get relegated, because all you have to do is be better than three/four other teams…

In the 10th minute of this relegation wake, Billy Clarke won a free kick in a wide position from which he swung in a cross that was headed home by Kelvin Mellor. It was only the first assist Clarke has managed since his January return to Valley Parade. And the striker is yet to register a goal.

Only 23 months earlier, Clarke was charging forward at full pace, one-on-one with the Millwall keeper Jordan Archer. The scene was Wembley stadium. The occasion was the League One play off final. It was a glorious chance for Clarke and Bradford City to go 1-0 up. To take a huge step towards winning the showpiece occasion. And of earning promotion to the Championship.

Clarke could not beat Archer who saved well. City would go onto lose the game 1-0. Fine margins. But from that big opportunity, the Bantams have just kept falling. An astonishing, painful collapse that reaches a new nadir of relegation to League Two.

At least the current crop avoided the indignity of equalling a club record eighth defeat in a row. Mellor’s goal here meant the Bantams led for a large part of the game, but Brandon Hanlon would earn Gillingham a point with a tap in from Ben Wilson’s mistake. The rot was stopped. Small comfort for a sparse Valley Parade crowd. Thousands choosing to stay away in dismay at the way the season has gone.

It’s a numb feeling right now, watching a team who have already been relegated. We knew we were going down weeks ago of course. Months ago, even. The Sword of Damocles has hung over the club since the Walsall debacle. The actual moment it was confirmed on Friday was hardly a shock. And that made it less painful.

But when you stop to think about it, you can’t help but feel rising anger inside. This is such an avoidable relegation. In the past we’ve gone down because of failing to compete with stronger forces (2001) or through financial troubles (2004 and 2007). And sure, we’ve made mistakes that have eventually been punished with a drop down a division (1990). But never has relegation been as nonessential as this.

23 months ago, Billy Clarke was part of a Bradford City team that under Stuart McCall had built on the strong legacy of Phil Parkinson to combine attractive attacking football with toughness and steel. The 2016/17 side was foolishly broken up far too quickly, and the succession planning was woefully lacking. We’ve swapped a team to be proud for this shambles of a squad.

With nothing left to play for but pride, the players performed okay here. The two O’Connors – Paudie and Anthony – were excellent at the back. Mellor, returning after injury, showed qualities we have been missing. In the centre Josh Wright continued his slow reputational rehabilitation with a steady display, while Jermaine Anderson broke up play well, set up attacks and impressed with his off the ball running. Scannell had another strong game, if utilised ineffectively by Gary Bowyer.

It’s hardly a lot to be excited about. But had City put on a show to demolish Gillingham, you’d have felt even more cheated by what has gone on before. They deserved to win this game but tripped themselves up as usual. Some positives, but really these are miserable times and nothing will rid the sour taste of relegation.

It is gross negligence to go down like this. And there’s only one man to blame of course. Edin Rahic’s vanity has gutted a proud football club of its values and character. His naivety and arrogance meant City went into the summer of 2017 losing too many good players that – with earlier foresight – could have been pinned down on new contracts much earlier. Mark Marshall and James Meredith might have been in demand that summer, but there was nothing stopping the club tying them up on new contracts before Christmas of that season. Or at least undertaking succession planning, as Parkinson always seemed to do so well.

Instead City spent that summer on the backfoot, ultimately recruiting badly. Rahic did not know what he had until it was too late.

He inherited the gift of a high-performing football club, whilst putting in relatively little capital himself. He didn’t appreciate the extraordinary job Parkinson had performed, resulting in one of the most successful managers in the club’s history deciding to walk away after just one meeting with Rahic. He didn’t respect Stuart McCall’s 37 years’ football expertise, somehow believing he knew better. He didn’t trust the staff around him – micro-managing, marginalising and eventually driving them away. He didn’t understand what had made Bradford City so successful since 2012. It was motoring along nicely in the right direction – all he had to do was keep it going.

He should have listened. To Parkinson. To McCall. To Simon Grayson. To James Mason. To Billy Clarke. The City striker was amongst the departures during that ill-fated summer of 2017. Sold to Charlton, without McCall even knowing. When Clarke returned in January this year, amazingly only Nathaniel Knight-Percival and Danny Devine remained from when he left 18 months earlier.

The 2016/17 side was probably the best we’d had since the administration of 2002. It needed building on, not tearing up. It was a brilliant season to be a City fan. Unbeaten at home, only seven losses in 46 games. Some terrific football, led by a club legend.

Rahic got credit at the time too – few knew just how destructive he was already proving to be behind the scenes. But the way he and Stefan Rupp rushed past McCall to take the acclaim, after the play off semi final aggregate victory over Fleetwood, was ill-judged. Success was down to the manager. Because of the players. Not you. Matter of Heart? What followed was a Matter of Farce.

When we think of Rahic’s mistakes and the way he has destroyed Bradford City, you automatically go straight to the sacking of Stuart McCall 15 months ago. It was clearly a terrible error of judgement that Rahic must regret. But it is not the reason why we have just been relegated to League Two.

Because the biggest mistake Rahic made was what he did last summer. At the end of last season, the chairman’s popularity was on a huge downturn. But he still had the opportunity to rescue the situation. Few tears were shed when Grayson opted not to stay on as manager – but it should have sent huge alarm bells for Rahic.

Grayson would not countenance working for a chairman dictating transfers. Rahic should have realised once and for all he needed to step back, and to accept that the decisions he had been making – sacking McCall, dictating transfers – were causing huge damage. He should have appointed a manager and given them them the freedom to operate their own way, including fully choosing who to sign. And off the field, Rahic needed to stop micro-managing people and let them do what they’re good at. The departure of James Mason was needless.

If that had have happened, Rahic could still be chairman of Bradford City right now. But instead he went into last summer with no one to resist his worst impulses. Rahic embarked on a seven-week hunt to find a head coach that ended with the farcical decision to give it to under-18s coach Michael Collins, after so many candidates turned down the chance due to the lack of control they would be forced to accept. Over that period, and with Abbott recovering from cancer treatment, Rahic carried on signing players anyway. He was playing real life championship manager.

With Rupp’s financial backing, the club went on its most expensive player recruitment drive in 15 years. It was absolutely reckless leadership from Rahic. Such investment should have led to a team that could compete for the play offs. To be bottom of the league, a long way behind everyone else – including many teams with far, far lower resources – is utterly shameful.

Imagine what a proper football manager could have done with last summer’s budget? Used wisely, City could have been closing on promotion now – with Rahic’s reputation restored. Instead, we have a lop-sided squad lacking quality in key areas. A muddled recruitment drive that wasn’t built for any tactical philosophy and that crucially neglected assessing players for their character. The chaotic environment has dragged them all down, and players who could have offered calm leadership, such as Matt Kilgallon, were driven away.

Not one player signed last summer has done themselves justice. They’ve all let the club and us supporters down.

Clarke returned to an environment that must seem unrecognisable. There was hope his January return could see the old values reinstalled, but Clarke’s powers are evidently fading. Starting here behind Scannell and George Miller, Clarke was clearly instructed to sit deep and ping balls down the channels. It isn’t his game, and he was eventually hooked with 10 minutes to play.

45 minutes after the final whistle and with the crowd having gone home, Clarke made his way to the back of the main stand lower tier to meet up with Colin Doyle, who had come along to watch the game. Doyle was shockingly released last summer, and both his replacements have proven inadequate. It must have made for an interesting conversation between the two former team mates.

The consequences of last summer’s amateurish approach are there for all to see. Bradford City will kick off next season in League Two, with little on the field that’s worth keeping. 16 players are still under contract beyond the summer. Rahic at least arranged for there to be relegation clauses that will reduce the wages of those who choose to stay, but it makes for a huge rebuilding job.

At least Rahic has left. Stefan Rupp belatedly woke up to the damage his partner was causing. And to his credit, he is committed to cleaning it up. Off the field the foundations are stronger, and the two-year deal given to Gary Bowyer – the seventh different person to stand in the City dugout in just 14 months – brings some much needed stability.

There has to be question marks over whether Bowyer is the right man after such a poor run of results. The resignation of David Hopkin – under mounting pressure from a section of fans – has led to even worse form. But Bowyer has a strong track record and hugely relevant experience of getting clubs through troubling times.

It is going to be a really tough job, rebuilding the club. It could takes years for us to be back in the position we were in May 2017. And the harsh truth is we might never get that opportunity again. Bradford City’s history is already against them. They’ve spent 65 of the last 78 football seasons in the bottom two divisions. A financial gap is growing between the Championship and League One, and with each passing year City will get weaker for being on the wrong side of that divide.

It has been a two-year collapse that could have long lasting consequences. And it was all completely unnecessary.

Categories: Match Reviews, Opinion

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34 replies

  1. Powerful words. Thanks you Jason.

  2. It’s either going to make us or break us next season Jason.
    I’m shocked the club have managed to sell over 13k season tkts in season of total and utter shambles.
    Bowyers results since his appointment haven’t suggested to me he’s the right man to take us forward however Julian Rhodes must see something that enables him to be confident we have the right man with the massive task of rebuilding squad capable of competing next season with very small wage budget.
    Getting players moved on will be difficult with there wage demands possibly beyond many lge 1 and 2 clubs.
    On the positives the club have great opportunity to rebuild on and off the pitch in terms of structure and development.
    We need to look at our youth academy and ask the question why we haven’t really had any players coming through for number of years and is the money spent been wasted ?.

  3. Great summation

  4. Great article and sentiments, can’t believe there were many more than 6,000 there today. We do not know the split between full price season tickets, children’s season tickets and flexicards but we do not have 13,500 “season ticket” holders for next season and dependant on results probably have a pretty soft base.

    I thought the reference to 1989/90 was interesting as we spent that whole season stumbling to relegation and winning only 10 league matches same total as we have at the end of today.

    We had some disastrous signings that season with Mark Aizelwood and Ian McCall and honest but none scoring forwards in Tony Adcock and Neil Woods. The equivalent of our January window was letting Jimmy Quinn leave and pretty well any hope going with him.

  5. Excellent analysis and spot on. So sad that one man has ruined the club. Huge damage done by Rahic but we blew the chance to recover after he had gone due to his legacy of a very poor squad.

  6. Jason, looks like your whitewashing of Rupp and Abbott’s contribution in creating the current mess, continues.

  7. Rajic has a narcissistic personality he clearly felt that his knowledge of football was far superior to to those around him. He would not take advice. It was his way or no way. What I cannot reconcile is why Rupp did not see this. His investment was significant. Anybody with that level of intelect and business acumen would and should intervene to protect his investment. Rahic destroyed Bradford City single handed. He did not buy a team he bought a set of individuals without considering their characteristics that are needed to build a winning combination. Bowyer and Rhodes need to build the team the way Parkinson did. Supporters will need to be patient (me included), to give them time to gel. They will be mistakes but not to the extent of what’s gone on this season. Next season I would be happy with consolidation and then a steady progression. At least Rahic had the sense to include financial penalties for relegation. That will help going forward.

  8. A brilliant article, Jason.

    Thanks to the consequences of Rahic’s reign, we’re a bit like a runaway train. Right now, I can’t see any light on the horizon.

  9. As well as the shambolic recruitment in the summer, we should never have resigned Billy Clarke, that was a waste too – fuelled by the pressure from supporters to sign a striker in the Jan window – sadly we needed a ‘TALL’ one!

    Disagree with Josh Wright beginning to show positive signs – made a point of watching his play yesterday – he is very weak in the tackle and also in his passing – although he did actually win 1 header in midfield early on lol!!

    Paudie O’connor did enough yesterday for me to suggest he would be worth bringing back next season. Mellor too I think will be good in L2 for us and said on the radio afterwards he is happy to stay. I’d like to see Caddis offered a new contract and if by some magic we could get O’Brien back next season that would be good as well. The rest can all go if we can get shut.

    You also forgot to mention the Pitch – despite the hundreds of thousands spent on it, even that still looked threadbare!

    • I read, from someone connected with the club, that Rahic took the cheap option when refurbishing the pitch. As I recall, the cost was stated as £75K. No surprise there!

      • I think it was Roger Owen, who had apparently been given the title of ‘Club Ambassador’, along with several others, by the ‘Man who knew Football’(sic).

  10. It all makes sense and is what most people know. It’s shocking to hear from some fans however, that Greg Abbott is to blame! There was a group of season ticket holders since the 60’s singing Rahics praises whist demonising Abbott during the Luton game. I had to walk away and keep my mouth closed. Abbott loves this club and he was very ill during recruitment and I’m sure his hands tied.

    Rahic is of course to blame but I feel Rupp gets off lightly. Is it because he’s still in charge and you feel you need to keep a good relationship with him? I felt you were far too kind on Rahic when you knew what you knew way before any of the fan base did and look what happened there. Rupp invested a lot of money into the club, only to look away when everything was going wrong. He’s either stupid or was culpable in all this. I don’t think he’s stupid.
    He needs asking some big questions on why he let this happen but do you have the balls to ask him?

    • Hi Thomas.

      I don’t have any relationship with Stefan. I’ve met him once. I have no reason to get into his good books. I just think he was duped by his business partner and whilst he has made big mistakes I don’t believe there are bad intentions behind it. And from speaking to people behind the scenes, Rupp is seemingly determined to fix things. It’s not something some people want to hear, but without Stefan’s money right now we’d be in massive financial problem. That doesn’t earn him a free pass from the mistakes he’s made, and long-term I’m not at all convinced he is right for us, but there has been a sense of pragmatisim too right now.

      It’s not about “having balls to ask him” I cannot speak to him anymore than you can. He doesn’t give interviews. He is not in the country. You’ll notice he has not done one interview with the T&A and Yorkshire Post. Every time we hear from him it is a pre-prepared statement from the club. I’ve requested interviews and being told he doesn’t want to do them.

      This article was more a comment on the reasons for relegation which occurred last summer. There is another article to write about the failings in January etc and the issues going forward. I don’t personally have great confidence in Rupp’s ability to run a football club. But he seems to be appointing/keeping people who do know how to run a football club.

      I’m not sure being “too kind” to Rahic is fair. I have a responsibility running this website to criticise constructively. I’ve wrote countless articles over his final year in charge criticising him and what he was doing. We raised awareness of what he was doing to fans in the dark about it. But unlike other areas of the City universe, eg social media, I couldn’t allow it be personal abuse.

      It’s all very well for you and others to be abusive towards Rahic on Twitter. I was dragged into a meeting where I had to confront him. He got very angry at me over the articles I’ve written. I had to defend myself and my position. I told him where I thought he was going wrong. And even that chat, I continued to write articles attacking him knowing full well he would continue to ring me.

      • Jason, I generally quite enjoy reading your articles. However, your insistence of putting all the blame on Rahic is an overly simplistic view. So, are you claiming that Rupp was duped? For this view to be true is to imply that Rupp is naive and gullible. I truly doubt that is the case.
        The recently updated Companies House records show that prior to this disastrous season, City’s total debt load grew by 50%. Are we expected to believe that Rupp knew nothing about this?
        Almost from day one, knowledgeable fans and managers like McCall and Grayson were critical of their “Vision.” Relegation this season should not be surprising to anyone. Their “Vision” was pure madness and suicidal.

      • Hi Phil (WoodyCanuck)

        Firstly congratulations for getting around the fact you are banned from making comments on this site due to a stream of reader complaints. It will be quite easy to block your new IP address if we need to.

        No one has put “all the blame” on Rahic. As the article and further comments have stated, Rupp was naive and trusted someone who it is proven was wholly unqualified to be in charge of a football club. However to suggest he is anything more than that is to move away from the facts we know.

        Rupp was persuaded/encouraged to buy Bradford City through Edin Rahic, who presented him with a business plan. Rupp had never attended a football match in his life prior to the dug diligence of buying City, when he attended a 0-0 draw with Coventry City in November 2015. He agreed to buy the club on the understanding that Rahic would move to England and run the club, whilst Rupp continued his life in Germany with only limted involvement.

        And as Rupp relied on Rahic for information, he knew only Rahic’s version of events and I understand the accounts were provided to Rupp late and incorrectly. So Rupp did not have a true financial picture of what was happening and the scale of the mess that Rahic was making of things. As I wrote in December, no one at the club apart from Rahic was allowed to communicate with Rupp. It’s quite obvious to see that Rupp’s view was formed on incomplete and false information. It was only in Autumn that Rupp realised he was being duped. At which point he took steps to remove Rahic.

        As John says in his comment, Rupp has since learned of the true scale of the financial losses and has covered them, whilst trying to financially back the manager. Whilst January is another article to write, it appears that with the financial outlay on extending Payne’s loan (rumours are we’re paying a five figure weekly sum in wages for Payne, something like double our financial commitment) and Jacob Butterfield (again with a large wage contribution), Rupp put up further funds. Yes, perhaps in hindsight we should have strengthened further. But the black hole of the finances and FL rules on losses limited our hand. The signings made were Hopkin’s decision.

        I understand that Bowyer has been given financial assurances from Rupp about having a good budget for next season. And with the club having 16 players under contract, most of who won’t be wanted, there are going to be some further financial hits to take moving them on. This is something Rupp is prepared to do – as John says, he feels a sense of responsibility.

        We can all agree Rupp has made serious errors that have hurt the club. But it is highly debateable that he was malicious about making them. And he could easily take the road of cutting all funding if he really wanted.

        I think his mistakes are in part due to the fact Bradford City simply isn’t his life in the way it is for us and was for Rahic. We can be criticial of that if we like, but I doubt he would have ever agreed to invest if he was expected to be a hands-on owner of a football club – a sport he knows that he knows little about. So criticise him for being clueless about football if you like – because he’d probably agree with you. That was never the point. Sadly, because of Rahic’s antics we need him to be the leader he never intended to be.

      • As I understand it without Jason and the team at width of a post been very balanced and writing with care … Rupp would not have had enough knowledge on how the supporters were feeling. Rupp was reader of Width of a post

    • Stefan Rupp openly admits that he made a big mistake trusting Edin Rahic. Until September last year he was being given reassurance from Rahic that all was going to plan and Rahic was able to provide plausible evidence of that being the case. For that matter Rahic was able to convince Rupp that much of the criticism among City supporters was unfounded, fickle and also racist. Besides, From Rupp’s perspective the club had reached the play-off final not that long ago and he and Rahic had been feted by City supporters in Germany. The personal abusive attacks on social media served only to undermine the credibility of those criticising Rahic and effectively hindered the message.

      It is not to condone the fact that Rupp didn’t see he writing on the wall but it is entirely understandable that he realised the problem only when he did. However in the last six months Stefan Rupp has done the right thing when he could quite as easily have walked away. He injected funds to pay the November wages and prevent insolvency in the winter. He introduced Julian Rhodes to manage the club. He gave backing to David Hopkins and responded to the demands of supporters that the two Huddersfield loan signings should be retained. It has cost him a lot of money putting his trust in people but what he didn’t do ‘was do a Rahic’ and assume direct control himself.

      We can debate whether he has been unlucky, foolish or inept until we are blue in the face but what is incontrovertible is that in the absence of a new owner he is the man underwriting the club and effectively subsidising the season tickets. My understanding is that a big part of his motivation to do so is that he feels a moral obligation. In terms of a rational investment decision he’d probably stand a better chance of a capital gain putting his money elsewhere.

      At the end of last year we had reason to believe that the club could achieve a turnaround and avoid relegation. So too Stefan Rupp probably thought likewise when he reflected on the state of affairs at Christmas. The fact that things collapsed in the way they did speaks volumes about how the club had been destroyed from within so quickly. I have been as big a critic of Rahic as anyone else but will admit that I have been surprised at the extent to which BCAFC has imploded. However things might be explained by the fact that Rahic had surrounded himself by yes men and to rebuild the club will need new blood at all levels and not just on the pitch.

      The challenge now is one of leadership to outline a compelling vision for the club to drive its recovery. What BCAFC needs is unity and for the moment I’d suggest the blame game is set aside. It is only six months since Rahic left the club for good and even less since the final legal arrangements were made to sever his involvement. Admittedly the last six months have not gone well but even now we are in a better shape than last October when Rahic was prowling the corridors of VP. In order for the club to get back on its feet I’d rather have people in charge who we can trust than the prospect of a distress sale and new owners imposing their ways.

    • Folk should be reminded that the Rhodes family took exactly the same approach with Richmond ( a fact i think they accept) giving him far too much latitude and not overseeing sufficiently their investment. Rupp could have written his losses off and walked away quite easily (just as the Rhode’s could have done) with only a small dent in his personal fortune and without any further liability and hassle leaving the Club up shit creek. Fair play to him for that.

  11. As ever, a well written piece Jason. I sincerely hope that this will be the last time I have to read the name of our collective destroyer, at least until the inevitable history book comes out, by which time the mind may have dimmed a little.

    As far as I’m concerned, it’s all about the future now. I’ll be happily away on a hastily booked holiday for our final home match, but am already looking forward to August and a new start for us all.

  12. Lots of truth in what you write as usual Jason but still lots in there about Edin who hasn’t been around since Dec. True he has been the architect of a most horrendous season but by the start of next season surely he needs putting to bed . Let’s try and forget about the guy, move on and let the new regime get on with it. Much debate has gone on about players we have let go or should have signed. Doyle was released but spends his time warming benches in Scotland where I could get a game. Honest there are better keepers out there. Marshall was desperate to get near his home but has only made rare starts. Not signing Hendrie was a so called disaster. He went to Shrewsbury , lasted just a few months only to be shipped out to Grimsby . A decent player but that’s his level. Billy Clarke pulled no trees up at Charlton and has shown nothing since coming back to be around next season. James Hanson scores two in a Wimbledon game and suddenly the clamour is up for a player the wrong side of thirty to be back. McMahon didn’t hack it at Oxford and with Rory is in freefall at Scunny. Jim Obrien who couldn’t find a club in Scotland , despite his best efforts could be playing non lg with Steady next season at Notts County. Alex Gillead more often than not doesn’t make the starting eleven at Shrewsbury. I appreciate our debates are all about opinions but the only player I feel we truly miss is James Meredith. Apart from that it would be a fresh start for me.

    • Hi David

      I agree that we move on, but in an article that was themed around analysing the reasons for relegation I inevitably had to talk about Edin. I strongly believe that the decisions made last summer are the reason we have been relegated.

      In terms of the players left, I think this is slightly missing the point. It wasn’t just about letting players go, but the poor succession planning. The fact is that none of the signings made in the summer of 2017 were better than the players they replaced, and it was simiarily poor in Jan 2018 and last summer. You go back to Phil Parkinson and whilst he didn’t get everything right (Wells/Mclean) he was good at moving people on at the right time and having a plan for their replacement. The 2014 departures of Gary Jones, Garry Thompson and Nathan Doyle are great examples of this. The fact is we have recruited badly since Jan 2017 (the Hanson/Wyke move was clearly a good one all round). And that is a big reason why we have gone from a team that reached the play off final to finishing bottom of the league in just two years.

      • Yes Jason , I agree it’s all the summer signings that has led to our demise but to actually sign so many new players in one fell swoop was a recipe for disaster. Teams in any sport adapt a policy of two or three in and the same out. Continuity. !! The problem confronting us now is that in reality we need to do exactly the same and risk the same consequences. Dare we risk it. ?

  13. Jason, I’m aghast to read the City are paying a five figure weekly sum towards Payne’s wages. If correct, there are people at the club who appear to be stark staring mad, to be party to such a deal. Given that he is obviously not rated by Bowyer, it is a scandalous waste of money. Everyone knew we needed a big target man and we go and blow over £10K per week on a player, who mainly warms the bench. Absolute lunacy and the road to ruin.

    • If true, £10k pw sounds excessive to say the least although presumably it was with thought of the commitment not lasting beyond the end of the season. However if we go back to January, social media was dominated by supporters crying out for the club to secure the services of the two Huddersfield loanees – and yes, based on the team’s form in December I was one of those who considered that the two would be the key to keeping us in the division.

      Keyboard warriors declared that Stefan Rupp had to secure the two players to demonstrate his commitment to the club. And in turn the chairman gave the manager his support. Maybe it was thought that keeping Payne and O’B would be critical for season ticket sales but either way, it kept the critics happy for the time being at least. If they hadn’t been signed it doesn’t take much imagination to guess what sort of reaction there’d have been, undermining efforts to rebuild the club and supporter confidence. In other words maybe it was felt that the club had no other option.

      I’m not trying to find the excuses but I do believe we need to give some benefit of the doubt to the difficulties faced by Rupp/Rhodes. Events in January moved fast and with the benefit of hindsight maybe different decisions would have been made. However at least Stefan Rupp was prepared to make a decision to invest in the team when he could quite as easily given up on BCAFC as a lost cause.

      • John, we have to disagree on this. Jack Payne, at his very, very, best was never worth anywhere near a weekly cost of £10k to a struggling third division club. If correct, at the very least, it was a foolhardy decision that has cost us our League One status, as we could have signed an accomplished striker at a fraction of that cost. The fans would have accepted losing Payne, if we’d have filled the position everyone knew was our biggest weakness. There has been very little outcry at him no longer being a regular. I remain absolutely dumbfounded.

      • Steve, We are not disagreeing that £10k pw is a massive amount to pay a player as I said in the first line of my comment – if indeed the rumour of his wage is accurate – but by the same token football finance has lost touch with reality. The signing of Payne in particular was a gamble that failed but I’m quite sure that a straw poll of City fans in January would have confirmed support for such a gamble – he was after all lauded as the then best player in the third division.

        In terms of securing Payne at whatever cost, crucially we don’t know what other options existed and whether a striker could have been signed or indeed for how much. Furthermore we don’t know the terms of the arrangement with Huddersfield and whether the club did actually sanction such expense on Payne – I’d be surprised if Julian Rhodes would have been comfortable with expenditure at that level.

        We are straying into what-if speculation and judgement with the benefit of hindsight. My point is that it’s easy to see why the club was prepared to take the gamble on Payne in January even if the numbers were on the high side. My feeling is that there were three key turning points in January that ultimately cost us relegation – (i) Payne losing his form; (ii) the loss of momentum after the Accrington game (the extended break perhaps prior to playing Barnsley); and (iii) Jim O’B leaving the club seemed to unsettle the team. With fragile confidence, the recovery was lost and predictable tactics also made us easy to defeat. We can all be wise after the event but I recall that on Boxing Day there were plenty of City supporters contemplating the possibility of a second half season recovery and a general consensus identified Payne as integral to it.

  14. I agree with just about everything written here by Jason.
    But I think it is now time we put behind us arguments about the past. What Rahic did cannot be undone, but the owner and Mr Rhodes can try to rebuild. I have no crystal ball and cannot say whether Bowyer will succeed and whether he is the right man for the job, but his past record seems to give me confidence in him.
    City need to get rid of the non-triers, and need a big, well-motivated team, but not a lop-sided one like that of this season.
    How they will clear out the squad I do not know, but it will need to be done.
    For what it’s worth, I think with Kilgallon and Colin Doyle in the team we might just have survived. Further, I think that the work-shy Akpan epitomises the mistakes made last summer. He has every attribute of a good player , apart from the right attitude. And others are similar to him. Players need to be checked for their attitude before they are signed.
    Also, the right balance in the team is needed, something lacking this season.
    We have bought season tickets, and hope that , unlike this season, it will not be money wasted.

  15. Always enjoy reading and listening to your comments. Nobody could ever doubt your honesty, integrity and desire for a successful Bradford City so please keep up the good work.
    I sincerely hope that you are correct in your assumption that the contracted players have all got relegation clauses that will reduce their wages following our confirmed drop to L2. Music to my ears!
    Although one or two have performed ok, in all honesty it wouldn’t bother me if the decision was made to release every single player!
    The gaffer certainly has a tough task ahead as it’s never ideal to build a totally new team, but given what we’ve witnessed this season it may be the best option. It’s clear that for some the jury is out on GB, but I’m hopeful that he is the man to take us forward as we are desperate for some stability. He is saying all the right things and has a personable manner that has endeared him to most fans.
    This summer will give us the best indication of both his ability and the club’s ambitions for a serious L2 promotion challenge.

  16. As angry and frustrated you feel about our relegation, which was completely unnecessary, it is gone now and unfortunately there is nothing we can do about it.

    I seem to recall Bury and MK Dons being in a similar state of disarray last season, with players being on inflated wages, so much so, that I think the latter cancelled their player of the season awards it was that bad, but they have both managed to turn it around, and are now vying for automatic promotion out of league 2, so it shows it can be done.

    The greatest barrier to that for Bowyer will be being able to get rid of the majority of the current squad, to free space in the budget to bring his own players in.

  17. I get breaking the bank for Payne, at the time, he was in rare form, we were winning, (even now I have the feeling that disallowed goal at Sunderland changed our season) but what I can’t get, is why after signing Payne, we take butterfield and Clarke.
    Butterfield is tidy and local, I’d love to have him as part of the rebuild but jan wasn’t the time, who made that decision? Who followed with Clarke, who said those signings made sense over a strong CB or a forward and then sanctioned the release of Kai?


    Mind, Barnsley seeing 200k in Miller is also baffling.

  18. A good article and, for me, paints a balanced view of where we were in November. I look forward to the follow up post-mortum of January.

    Last two summers we have needlessly let players contracts run down and then lost the good ones due to offering them insulting contracts.

    This summer we don’t have that issue. We have the players on longer contracts…. the problem now is that they are the WRONG players, and they were signed by the chairman not a manager.

    For me.. GB needs Caddis and needs to get both Paudie and Lewis back for another 12 months if poss, the other out of contract players haven’t done enough to stay.

    We also need to ship out Riley, Akpan, Doyle, Wright, Reeves, Patrick and Gibson.

    Then we need to look at some key building blocks… Keeper, Left back, Centre Half, Battling midfielder, 2nd winger, target man.. etc etc.. I don’t envy GB, this summer’s recruitment drive is going to be our hardest yet…

  19. Hi Jason.
    Great summation and a very, very, very polite way of saying how I feel.
    I was almost a stay-away myself on Monday as the pub was very tempting and would have been if I wasn’t taking my cousin to her first match.
    I’m deeply saddened and so, so angry at what’s happened as, like you said, none of this was neccessary.
    I hope Bowyer is the man for the job and he, sooner rather than later, settles on his tactics.
    Rupp’s commitment will be shown over the summer.
    Roll on August!

  20. Excellent article. This season has felt like a very long bad dream. I really hope i’m wrong but I give Bowyer till the end of October.

  21. Another fine summary Jason.
    Not been to bothered to comment recently as the sheer enormity of the failings over 15 months sank in.
    To those criticising Rupp (not too harshly) I agree …duped.
    Clearly had so little interest in BCFC and football but was sold the Premier League riches gamble by Rahic.Who would of course take us there.
    Once Stu got us to Wembley Rahic had his evidence.”Look…easy peasy Mr Rupp.I am a genius.”
    3 hail Mary”s to John Dewhirst who flew to Munich to let Mr Rupp know what, precisely was happening.That Rahic had signed 12 Mary”s and the money was spent.
    I wonder if in your fraught convo”s with Rahic he ever asked you who that twat Mike Stead was ha ha ha.Jason.
    Had a tough year (a family cancer)and despite going as a guest against Charlton (where I was feet away from the “master”) i did not get chance to collect my Season ticket until about 8 weeks ago.
    Poor Mick had to print me another the first no doubt shredded by the nut job.
    Its been so avoidable.
    That is indeed the annoyance.
    In the play off final season (forget the love in nonsense re children) Marshall Mc Cardle and Meredith should have been taken in a dark room and by Christmas made to sign year extentions at least.
    There are ways of making folk talk and Bowyer has his work cut out over the coming weeks to get shut of a dirty dozen.
    It can be easier to make them stay.Especially when things are rosy.
    Shocking moves then that showed Rahic had his hands firmly on who he thought best.
    I believe he liked Marshall.So he should have tied him.
    This team has no pace or proper widemen.
    Despite been nowhere near the corridors of power it was plainly obvious to me we were financially sinking.You get that easily after 40 years of analysing.
    John must have sniffed it too and took matters further than my social media exposures.
    Well done John.Well done Jason.
    I feel relief.That the nightmare is over.
    Somehow Julian and all of us need to pick ourselves up,dust ourselves off put trust in a man with a good record (without bragging about being a championship manager) sign a few players of steel like Jimbo O B who will run through brick walls for 97 minutes and hope they come out of the traps determined.
    Not just to pick up the odd hatrick bonus but to win.Together and weekly.
    With someone constantly dragging the place down gone and his stooges with him we will have a chance again.

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