Shifting the strategy

Image by John Dewhirst

By Jason McKeown

Steve Morison is fractionally offside as Lee Gregory heads the ball in his direction, but the flag stays down. The Welsh international has stolen in behind Nathaniel Knight-Percival and he stabs the ball into the net. It’s a Wembley goal that will earn Millwall promotion to the Championship, and bring ultimate victory to a three-year battle between the Lions and Bradford City.

It was a short-term rivalry that began on a freezing January 2015 night in West Yorkshire, when League One Bradford City humiliated Championship Millwall in an FA Cup third round replay. With a prize of a trip to Millwall’s bitter rivals Chelsea on offer, City’s 4-0 thrashing pushed Ian Holloway closer to the sack and ripped apart confidence in the London club’s doomed battle to avoid relegation.

A year later, both City and Millwall were fighting it out in the third tier, with the Lions emerging victorious in the 2015/16 play off semi final. Millwall went onto lose that play off final. But a year later they were back at Wembley – back facing the Bantams in a crucial game – and Morison’s late, late goal sent Millwall up at City’s expense.

Two clubs, vying for the same goal of second tier football – with barely anything between them in terms of final league position, and across the four League One meetings, over 2015/16 and 2016/17. But when it came to the balance sheets, the two clubs were poles apart.

In 2016/17, Stuart McCall was operating on a £2.7 million playing budget – around a third on the £8 million at Neil Harris’ disposal. Between 2011 and 2017, Bradford City climbed from the lower reaches of League Two to coming agonisingly close to promotion to the Championship, whilst making a £2 million profit. Over the same period, Millwall made a loss of £36 million.

Yet Millwall’s debt-driven approach is the norm in English football over recent years – especially for clubs in, or with ambitions of, reaching the Championship. It was Bradford City’s self-sustaining, keep-in-the-black philosophy that was out of kilter with almost everybody else.

And though a financially prudent mantra gives the Bantams greater security during times of uncertainty like Covid-19, the lower risk approach is also one of the reasons why it has fallen behind.

***

Bradford City’s largely frugal strategy to finances over the last decade has its roots in the scars of the past. Administration in 2002 and 2004 – even some financial struggles in 2011 – led to the club taking a more self-sustaining approach to finances that between 2011 and 2017 worked well. Debt has not been a popular word in these parts.

In the two-and-a-half years in-between Julian Rhodes and Mark Lawn selling up, and Rhodes returning to help out, City had once again got themselves into a bit of a financial mess. That recovery is still to be completed, but City were edging closer again to becoming a break even club – at least before Covid-19.

Yet still, the buy now and pay later culture at the higher end of English football leaves a growing feeling of frustration amongst supporters at Valley Parade. The backwards steps City have taken since Morison’s Wembley goal have been really difficult to reverse. And the pace of turning around the ship is slow.

Clubs, like Millwall, who have gambled generally had wealthy owners who were willing to underwrite those losses. This was something beyond the financially capability of Lawn and Rhodes. If Stefan Rupp really wanted to, he could spend millions of pounds underwriting huge losses and making Bradford City a force. Invest in infrastructure, scouting and coaching support. Buy back Valley Parade. But in his defence, that was not the blueprint Rupp was sold when he was persuaded by Edin Rahic to fund the purchase of Bradford City – when he’d never been to a football match in his life. With the way things have turned out, ultimately, Rupp will want to sell the club. He certainly doesn’t want to keep pouring money down a black hole.

But the club’s challenge is getting supporters bought into the ‘live within means’ way of thinking and to provide confidence it can be successful. There is a limited appetite to go through years of struggle like we had to endure 2000-2012.

***

The impending introduction of the salary cap has a lot of negative connotations for Bradford City. It will mean the £2.7 million playing budget used last season will be reduced by 45% to £1.5 million at a basic level. (Although players already under contract are partially excluded from the cap, meaning the impact shouldn’t be as bad as initially feared for 2020/21.) So the financial advantage City enjoyed last season over around two-thirds of the rest of League Two will be reduced.

But it’s a deeper problem than that. The strategy Bradford City deployed between 2011-2017 – one that took City to the fringes of Championship football – will not work under the salary cap rules. Because that climb half way up the ladder, and £2 million profit, was fuelled by revenue from cup runs and player sales. The proposed salary cap rules deem that revenue achieved from these routes can’t be added to your playing budget.

The 2012/13 season was a brilliant example of how the approach worked. City pushed the boat out on signings – with a budget of around £1.9 million. This was more than the £1.3 million break even they could afford at the time, but they had certain possibilities in place to recoup the extra £600k. This included cup runs, sell-ons from former youth players snapped up by Premier League clubs (such as Andre Wisdom) and, as a last resort, selling a player like Nahki Wells.

Of course, the run to the League Cup Final provided City with a financial windfall beyond expectations. Part of it was used to settle the historic loan put in by Mark Lawn. But crucially to success, it meant Phil Parkinson could not only keep his squad but add to it.

In the end, City’s playing budget for 2012/13 was over £2 million. The success of the calculated gamble saw revenue come in that gave the Bantams the extra push to promotion.

But if City were to repeat the cup success of 2013 next season, under the proposed salary cap rules they couldn’t use the cup revenue to strengthen the squad towards promotion. Or, like in 2014/15 after the FA Cup run, increase the playing budget for the following season. Or, if they unearth the next Nahki Wells or Oli Mcburnie, reinvest the profits of a player sale to increase transfer spending.

That plan, which was so close to successfully bringing Championship football back to Valley Parade, now needs a rethink. The question is: to what?

***

There are two financial stages ahead for Bradford City – getting through Covid-19, and then (hopefully) a return to normality.

What’s important for City’s balance sheet is the speed of financial recovery from lockdown. Not so much in the sense of recouping the losses of Covid-19, which Rupp is said to absorbing, but in how long it takes for income and expenditure to return to the levels of before.

Will season ticket sales be strong when they are made available again? And if City have to operate with reduced crowds for a significant period of time, what will that do for matchday income, including corporate hospitality? And there’s the knock-on effect from how local businesses – big and small – are faring through the pandemic. When companies cut costs, spends like hiring executive boxes at Valley Parade, sponsoring the club and advertising in the programme could be the first to go.

It’s hard to see how there won’t be some negative impact over much of 2020/21. Other clubs are in the same boat too – Ipswich predict a £10 million loss, promoted Plymouth are expecting to cut jobs, Premier League clubs have collectively lost £1 billion in revenue. The storm has not yet passed, and that has to come into the short-term thinking. The reality is that City staff remain furloughed and there won’t be a lot of regular revenue coming into the club for some time.

Boris Johnson has talked hopefully about life returning back to normal by Christmas. And there is rising optimism about a Covid-19 vaccine. So there is light at the end of the tunnel for City. We still await to see the long-term consequences of all of this on football clubs. When stadiums are fully reopen again, will society quickly return to watching live football in the same numbers as before?

***

City’s plans are undoubtedly influenced by these events, but if and when the Covid-19 cloud does clear and normality returns, there is a real opportunity to focus more on the long-term structure of the club. Including deploying funding, that cannot go into the playing budget, into other areas.

The salary cap might be restrictive on the field, but it doesn’t stop City from still making more money than their peers, especially in League Two. If the Bantams can afford to have a playing budget that’s higher than they’re allowed to spend (both in League Two and One), the big question is what the club does with this sort of remaining budget in the long run?

It’s going to be more important than ever to get recruitment decisions right. In a sense, clubs are in a strong position this summer with the Covid-19 situation leading to lots of players out on contract and many facing the reality of reduced wages or no longer being employed as a professional footballer. So City, and others, have plenty of choice out there.

But when the market settles down again, in normal circumstances, clever recruitment is clearly going to be vital in gaining the edge in the new salary cap world. If you can spend more than your rivals, you can afford a few duff signings and still be near the top. On a reduced budget, there is a smaller margin for error.

There were rumours that City were going to improve the recruitment area – at least before the Covid-19 situation – and when the club is back up and fully running, it’s something they really need to look at. An analytical team could work wonders.

Can the training ground be further enhanced? A lot of the progress under the Phil Parkinson years came after significant improvements were made to the training ground from 2011. This included making sure there was a place the players can meet and change, rather than driving to and from Valley Parade in muddy kit. New pitches were also built.

City made big strides here – but the lessons of the past show that you cannot afford to standstill. That Stuart McCall the manager, first time around, was basically having to use the same training set-up he’d experienced as a player, first time around, showed years of neglect for something that is so fundamentally important. Even small changes can add up to a lot.

And there’s the coaching staff too. One of the big revolutions of 2011-2017 was the appointment of Nick Allamby by Peter Jackson. It became a real issue when Allamby left with Parkinson in 2016 – fitness was an obvious problem in the relegation season especially. City now have the services of Ben Rome, but there might be other smart additions to the backroom team that can really support the players. Add new voices and dedicated support.

For City to become more successful again, they also need to move away from the curse of short-term thinking. Part of the issues with recruitment right now is the high turnover of managers. Edin Rahic built a squad for Michael Collins. David Hopkin began to change it. Gary Bowyer was hamstrung by a large part of his budget already assigned to players he inherited. And now Stuart McCall has a similar issue.

Since January 2018, every time the club has struggled badly they’ve changed manager. That has sometimes been the right call, but the constant hitting of the restart button has made it very difficult to get any momentum going.

Like with Parkinson, at some stage we’re going to have to stick with a manager through a downturn, to allow them to properly rebuild. And with the limitations of the salary cap taking effect over the coming years, City are in less of a position to keep bringing in managers who don’t like the look of the squad they inherit. Or the cycle will keep repeating.

We need to find a way to bring back the culture of players sticking with the club for years, playing a key part in success. Your Stephen Darbys, Rory McArdles, James Merediths, Andrew Davies’, James Hansons. That comes from a central ethos. A blueprint that pre and post-dates the manager.

Since McCall was sacked in 2018, not one manager has lasted a full 12 months at the helm. At this level, it’s very difficult to attract a good manager who doesn’t have full control of his transfer budget. But it’s not healthy to keep signing players on contracts that outlast the manager.

Whether a smarter, progressive, long-term approach is ultimately enough to take City into the Championship – with the gulf between the top two and bottom two divisions only likely to grow over the next few years – is another question. But the first steps of getting City moving forwards again, and at least back to the top end of League One, has to be the initial priority. The stability at Wycombe Wanderers is certainly a good illustration of what can be achieved.

It appears the club has no choice but to accept a salary cap. We can’t ignore or overlook the problems it creates to the model, but it cannot be a reason to hoist the white flag and accept a lifetime in the lower leagues.

Culturally, and structurally, this might be the opportunity to build a stronger and more sustainable Bradford City Football Club.



Categories: Opinion

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48 replies

  1. The size of our stadium should allow us to ensure fans can socially distance by using the full stadium with say 2 seats inbetween each person perhaps. Would need careful arrival and departure procedure which might make it impractical, but compared to a tiny stadium that can hold 2-3k it must be possible to house more fans.

    • it’s not just the sideways space to think about….you’d only be able to use every other row too (or maybe every 3rd)….

      so if its a 24k capacity- only being able to use every other row drops that to 12k (roughly), then if you have to leave 2 seats in between – thats a third of that so your looking at only having 4,000 in the ground!

      leaving 2 row in between and 2 seats either side would be 2-3000!

      • True, but households – “bubbles” – could sit together. I, for example, could continue to sit with my son and a family of four would not need the spacing. It’s a very tricky jigsaw puzzle but not everyone will sit on their own so we might well get more than 4,000 in.

  2. With the salary cap looking more like a done deal the big worry is what happens to any additional revenue the club receives above this cap. Will this be reinvested in the club infrastructure or used to pay off ‘Mr.IKF’ mistakes? If you look at Julian Rhodes‘ past history, the first thing the club did with the Capital One Cup Final windfall was pay back Mark Lawn so the warning signs are clear.

    We need to start acting like the ‘big club’ we are endlessly told we are. That means a real scouting network, club staffing, bringing the facilities at Valley Parade out of the dark ages etc.

    There is a growing lack of confidence that we will progress off the field and feeling that any additional revenue raised will go to pay off Stefan Rupp’s failed investment in the club. The club will stick by their current working model while other clubs continue to exploit loopholes or just blatantly just break FFP rules without punishment. We will be left to rot in the lower leagues, living off past cup glory days, harping on to all that we have cheap season tickets.

    In a post COVID-19 world where people have found other activities to do on a Saturday the club needs to excite fans to get them back, we need new ideas, hope & positivity. The old Rhodes’ play book of cheap season tickets & hope for a cup run has past its sell by date. Let us be honest when you are on the same level as Barrow & possibility of playing Harrogate or Halifax (no disrespect to these clubs intended) and there is a real risk that these clubs will overtake City in the rankings, just as Wycombe, Salford & Accrington have, you surely have to realise that the club needs to think differently,

    The club’s future prospects need to change and this needs new ideas and mindset, something I believe we do not have in the current leadership at Bradford City.

    • I’m not interested in new ideas and mindsets. I’m interested in the right ideas and mindset.

      Geoffrey Richmond and Edin Radhic brought new ideas and mindsets. The former caused two administrations and the latter took us from within 10 minutes of the Chamionship to mid table league 2.

      I don’t disagree with anything you said. When I started watching City we could look at clubs like Reading, Hull, Huddersfield, Swansea as equals – now they are a million miles away. There were ‘sleeping giants’ like Wolves, Leeds, Stoke, Middlesborough and Burnley who we competed aginst as equals but they have since woken up. And of course thats not counting the new kids on the block like Bournmouth and Brentford – although it remains to be seen if they can sustain their status.

      The problem I find is that football fans in general and City fans in particular seem to be quick to moan and point out flaws in our current leadership but less quick to put forward a clear way forward, reluctant to promote ‘new ideas and mindsets’ – other than rather naive calls for more cash (from somewhere).

      My view is that any football club needs the holy trinity of good manager, good leadership and money. Thinking about my years watching City we have had one, possibly two but rarely (if at all) all three. For what its worth I think we have a good manager in McCall, competant leadership in Rhodes, but no money. You may disagree with that assesment but its difficult to argue that the biggest single thing holding City back is the lack of investment.’

      • I agree with your opinion Andy but I also think that the ‘lack of investment’ should be seen in the light of many more ‘successful’ competitor Clubs investing more than what they could afford. If we are competing with owners of Clubs who are prepared to get into accumulating millions upon millions of £s of debt then they are welcome to that way of providing greater investment for me. If Clubs had have been severely punished for spending more than they could justify under the Financial Fair Play Rules then maybe, as a well run ‘business’, we would not be for ever hoping for a couple of billionaires to buy the Club.

        The FFP rules seemed the right way for Clubs to operate for me. However, it appears that some Clubs just couldn’t play fair and the Covid crises has been too good an opportunity for the EFL to allow to go to waste so will finally get their salary cap system introduced.

  3. The salary cap will force clubs like City to focus on youth development and improved recruitment. In other words, restructure into a professional and sustainable business. The Parky days of putting every available penny into the senior squad are gone. Money alone will no longer buy promotion. Neither will relying on the “old pals” network for recruitment. The manager/coach needs support in ensuring a professional approach to recruitment.

    • The big worry is that the club wont be “forced” to do it at all. It’s the approach an ambitious club would take, but all Rupp cares about is getting his money back, which was highly unlikely. The salary cap for him is perfect, any excess funds above the cap would go nicely into his pocket if he saw fit, just like the McBurnie money.

      It would be cheaper for him to give the club away for nothing than to get us back to where he bought us. Meanwhile I have no confidence in those running the club to make good use of spare cash.

      • Sad to say but Rupp giving the Club away for nothing is not an option. Due to the debt load and drop in market value, he would have to pay someone to take it off his hands. I’ve long been a critic of Rupp but the Covid scenario is starting to make me feel a bit sorry for him.

      • I am waiting for all the critics of Stefan Rupp to tell us who is going to take the club off his hands and invest the millions they are expecting to be spent. Presumably Leon will be giving up his day job to show everyone how the club should be run.

      • Gary S –
        Firstly, where did I say Rupp should spend millions of his own money?
        Secondly, I lost my job because of the Covid pandemic at the start of May, I havent been able to secure a new job, so I am available.
        What is it with people like you? When someone demands the club improve the way it is run, to adopt modern ways of thinking and running a club, to show some professionalism and not stumble from one season to the next with no plan or idea, your response is always “if you know so much you run the club”?

        Do you realise how ridiculous that sounds? I’m simply expressing my opinion, one that I think you’ll find is shared by a lot more fans than you might think. Do I say to you “if you know so much, YOU run the club”? No, because that’s the response of a child.

        8 likes for that comment. What a set of sad sacks you are.

      • I think the frustration some have Leon is that beyond trite generalisations about improving “scouting” or “marketing” or whatever those who pile into the Club never have anything to offer as an alternative. Its interesting that two of the three Clubs mentioned above (Stanley/Wycombe) by JT seem to owe their success to two outstanding individuals Coleman and Ainsworth. They are certainly not big budget and have no massive infrastructure behind them. Interestingly Stanleys “scouting” has alus been top notch and i doubt it goes beyond JCs personal contacts. Therein really lies the answer. The key appointment is the manager provided you can supply a competitive (ish) budget, give him time to build and some stability behind the scenes. Its not rocket science. We pretty much ticked all those boxes in the PP era. We did succeed by merit without jeopardising the existence of the Club and that made it all the more enjoyable.The Salford approach (also mentioned above) holds no appeal for me the ultimate “plastic” club and doomed to fail eventually once the Billionaire owner and the others lose interest.
        There is an adult discussion to be had with regarding to ST pricing but it is going to be a very hard sell to increase it this season with the likelihood of fewer games. Some will pay more (myself included) and many supporters this summer have expressed a desire to support the club financially provided there is a scheme which is properly constituted and transparent. Personally i think a modest increase in ST price is sensible whilst the overall principle is sound given the nature of the Citys demographic, the size of the stadium and importantly making footy affordable for hardworking families. We all know from our own families that this is the lifeblood of the club long term.
        Anyway good luck withe job hunt.

    • Paul its small margins…..didn’t we have the 3rd highest budget in Parkys promotion season yet scraped into 7th place due to the collapse of Exeter?

      Unlike Woody above, you an still buy your way to promotion. It has to help. Has Jason states you can afford to have more failures/disappointments. Its not has important in the lower leagues than in the prem obviously but it still matters….Swindon were able to take Doyle back by gambling another 100,000….and retain their loans….it can still be done with a good manager and team spirit bt money has to help otherwise why is anyone actually bemoaing the salary cap in the first place?

  4. Great read Jason. Getting into the Championship where we haven’t been for 16 years, is getting harder each year. Forget any pipe dream of the Premiership football which doesn’t particularly bother me, it’s the Championship I really want. The fact is, to get into the top two leagues you need owners who are prepared to gamble and mostly likely lose money. Yes, you’ll have exceptions but in general you need deep pockets to mount a challenge and sustain life in the Championship. It clears the current owner has a different approach and is not as frivolous as many of us would like him to be. So we’ll have to get used to bouncing between the bottom two leagues.

    I think many of us yearn for a regular staple of a team of fighters, buzzing atmosphere and decent away followings when going to VP. I just hope that there is a genuine rich individual who is prepared to bankroll City but I feel much like the economy of the district, we punch below our weight.

  5. Buying the ground back.
    Unless we are prepared to.pay well over the valuation of VP that wont happen.
    The Flamingoland pension fund is administered by trustees who
    have a legal obligation to getting the best income for the fund. At present this is leading the stadium to us. Unless things change dramatically that situation isn’t likely to change anytime soon

    • Go the the council & petition to make sure the valley parade land site can only be used for football & not be re developed.

      Simple when the lease agreement ends if he not going to sell then move stadium for a bit. If Valley Parade sitting there tenant free & can’t be used for anything other then sport he will be forced to seek a sale.

      Gordon Gibb more then made his money on the stadium & club time to fight back against him.

      • Zane. Where would you move City to? Who would agree to let us use their stadium? Importantly what would the cost be, of moving to a temporary location?
        Historically the Council have done very little to practically support Bradford City (unlike the Northern Bulls), what makes you think they would put into place any restrictions on the land use? A long legal battle could ensue, with the outcome uncertain. City could then be in a ‘limbo’, homeless and stuck.
        Gibb has shown no tangible interest in the club, what makes you think he would do otherwise now? He was getting an annual rent of £370,000 in 2011 (which may well be indexed linked), which was apparently paid into his personal pension fund (such schemes often have significant tax benefits).

  6. A covenant on the ground to ensure that it can only be used as ma sports ground is a good first step.
    Although the flamingoland pension fund owns the ground and has some level of autonomy it is however beholding to the wishes of the 2 sole beneficiaries, gordon gibb and his sister. if those two want the ground sold it will be sold.
    currently the annual rent is approaching half a million pounds annually. at this level that outlay is crippling. in the first division that rent is still considerable and a major hampering of progress. even in the championship that outlay would be substantial. as I understand it the current lease agreement expires in 2028. we must face the fact that any new agreement will involve a further and ongoing increase in rent. there is nothing to prevent the owners from setting the rent at just, but only just below a figure that would make the club insoluble, squeezing every last penny out of Bradford City AFC.
    the club owes it to itself (and the fans) to at least ask the owners whether they would be open to a sale and, if they were, what the asking price would be.
    Valley Parade is only of value to the owners as the home of a professional club. by having a feasible alternative ground at which to play, only then could we force their hand if they otherwise didn’t want to sell.
    if we want to know what this involves we have only to look no further than the experience of Coventry City.
    Odsal was never a serious option, even for the short term move we would need and is now completely out of the question so, with 2 clubs already playing matches at grounds in Halifax and Huddersfield, where would we, couild we, go?

    • But why has the question never been asked? I understand he won’t sell why Rhodes involved so make that part of the agreement of sale that Rhodes no longer involved.

      Ask him if he would sell to the club or if not to them a supporters trust.

      I’m happy with salary cap enough of wasting on mediocre players. Start by buying back our stadium & then build our infrastructure up which we don’t have with the extra money.

  7. In theory, all league 2 Clubs and their managers/coaches are now competing on a level playing field -no more ‘buying’ a promotion. On the face of it, after a manager/coach has had time to bring in and mould his own players, the league position a team ends up in at the end of the season should be more or less reflective of that manager/coach’s overall abilities -barring long term injuries to influential players. Yes, they will still require a good dollop of luck at various points during the season but that has always been the case.

    The example of Millwall’s Neil Harris’ spending compared to Stuarts has got to make you wonder what could have been achieved if Stuart (or Parky) had have had that sort of dosh to put a team together. I wouldn’t have wanted them to be given that to spend if it meant massive debt by the way but it does beg the question, who would you say was the better coach of the two? Wikipedia will obviously show the data that indicates Neil Harris to be the most ‘successful’ because the league position of a Club is what the manager gets measured by, not the cost per league position comparison. Stuart finished higher than Harris in the league achieving 6 points more than Harris after 46 games, with a goal difference worth another point. When it comes down to an ‘off-side goal’ that made the only difference between Stuart, who had £2.7m to put a team together, and Neil Harris, who had £8m, then I think we should be very grateful we will have Stuart as our manager when the salary cap comes in.

    No doubt some Clubs will already be building up legal advice bills looking for loopholes in the proposed system. Will players be advised to ask for a bigger percentage cut of any transfer fee to cover lower post-Covid wages? Could the lower wages enforced by the salary cap be compensated for by the buying club paying the selling club a higher fee to cover the loss of the higher % cut of the fee the player is to get? That could be one way of getting a ‘marque’ -or two- player to sign and would certainly undermine the salary cap. I haven’t spent much researching that potential loophole being covered by EFL rules yet. I know ‘signing on’ fees are included as part of the salary cap but transfer fees are not. If anyone can shed any light on the matter it would be appreciated.

    • Lonnie, you and Jason have both claimed the Millwall goal was offside. Could you please refer me to the video that clearly shows it being offside? I’ve probably looked at the game video a dozen times without coming to your conclusion. I’ve frozen the picture and if pushed for a decision, I would say barely onside. The TV video angle makes it impossible to be 100% sure.

    • problem here is time Lonnie. Stauart has inherited 14 playes we don’t know if he would have signed. Vey likely not for his style of play. Keep changing managers and that effect rolls over to the next so you end up with an unbalanced squad and/or players that aren’t suited…..watford and their constant change i managers support this perfectly has does us after the sacking of Stuart albeit Edin recruited platers be fore a manger and then a pasty manager in Collins

  8. I really hope that we do reinvest whatever extra money we make into the academy, scouting and other facilities. We’ve not really had much success in spending a big budget previously and we’ve sacrificed these areas for a bigger budget and we’ve not had much success with it.

  9. Is there a realistic worry that Rupp could pocket the excess funds in order to recoup his losses?

  10. Leon, if you are suggesting Rupp will take any excess money the Club generates in order to claim back what he has already lost (millions?) so far in investing in the Club and you are criticising him if he does do that, how could that not be interpreted as wanting Rupp to ‘spend millions’?

    • Lonnie, apparently I don’t have to engage with your comments because you haven’t used your real name. Sorry m8.

      But because I’m not a child I will. Are you suggesting that you’re ok with a man buying the club with the sole purpose of recovering his investment bit by bit through surplus income above the salary cap?

      I don’t think thats an acceptable outcome and neither do many others.

      • Sorry Leon no one goes into business to lose money. Sport can sometimes differ from this truism but often even the most generous benefactors want repaying eventually ie Eddie Davies or Dean Hoyle who is to be repaid in full crippling Town financially and taking most if not all of their parachute payments moving forward. Rupp cannot be expected to cover the Clubs losses. It is quite probable that he has again put his hand in his pocket to tide us over Covid. Rupp could easily just have walked away last summer any prompted another insolvency. He did not and credit to him for that

      • Hi Leon, thanks for responding.

        Your response was more of a question to me but I THINK your answer is that you don’t want Rupp to recoup his investment in any form at all. You didn’t make it clear -and so I could have misunderstood you, so I apologise in advance if I have- but you appeared to object to the majority of the McBurnie windfall being used to cover Rupp’s extra cash to cover debts and his initial investments in the club? It is clear you don’t like the idea of Rupp taking anything out of any surplus that might become available due to the salary cap full stop. Regardless, it seems, of how well the marketing and commercial side of the business does in contributing to any surplus/profits?

        You responded to my question by way of asking me a question but I am quite happy to try to answer you:

        Yes, I have no problem whatsoever with an investor/owner having the objective of buying a business with the aim of not only recouping his/her investment ‘bit by bit’ as long as the necessary reinvestment from surplus/profits is also made. In fact I would go further than being happy with them just recouping their investment I would hope that they make a worthwhile profit from a well run, sustainable, business.

        I was happy with Mark Lawn taking his ‘bit by bit’ interest from the £1m loan to the Club -and he was/is a massive fan- because these investors/owners are taking the risk of losing a significant amount of money and often having to face almost continuous abuse and often accusations basically claiming that they are dishonest.

        I had hoped that in your response you might have volunteered in what form and under what circumstances you think it WOULD be acceptable for Rupp to claw back some of the significant expenditure he has made. My fault for not asking I suppose.

      • Paul, currently I seriously doubt that Rupp’s put his hand in his pocket to cover City’s losses due to Covid. I do admit however, it is a distinct possibility going forward. In pursuit of your admiring view of Rupp you say he could have easily walked away last summer and likely prompting another insolvency. That is so false that it is truly laughable. The facts you appear to be ignoring are the £3 million McBurnie windfall and also what about the several million in market value/equity that he would be turning his back on by leaving??

        In addition, I understand the £1.2 million loan to cover the 2018/9 season shortfall has been repaid. Does this really sound like a benevolent owner???

      • Woody (Phil W.),

        I am confused as to which way the wind is blowing around where you live in far off Canada at the moment so I would appreciate you clarifying for me whether you are sticking with saying that Rupp is doing quite well for himself -in your latest post- OR, whether he is in the sorry situation you suggested he is in, with your earlier post, viz ‘Sad to say but Rupp giving the Club away for nothing is not an option. Due to the debt load and drop in market value, he would have to pay someone to take it off his hands. I’ve long been a critic of Rupp but the Covid scenario is starting to make me feel a bit sorry for him’.

      • Lonnie. Tl;dr

        Cheers

      • Leon,

        Sorry m8, And there was me thinking you had plenty of time on your hands nowadays.

        Cheers.

      • What a lovely guy you are Lonnie. Bet your mum is very proud.

        So nice to come here and have a reasonable conversation with fellow fans.

  11. The naivety about City’s situation as well as the venom and bitterness among a number of City supporters is remarkable. Maybe if they could get away from their keyboards it might be healthier and it would also prevent them making fools of themselves.

    • I think to be fair Gary all supporters want the best for the club.

      I don’t think it’s bitterness or venom, more a frustration that a number of years of steady improvement has gone backwards.

      Its also frustrating that as supporters we just seem to be (literally) spectators. Our ability to change, influence or even understand the running of the club is really limited.

      Reading some of the message boards and forums you’d be forgiven that Bradford is full of highly sucessfull CEOs, businessmen and high financiers given some of the comment and opinions they give on the running of the club. Looking around the city of Bradford one assumes they ply their trade elsewhere!

      Months ago I took issue with Leon about expectations at Bradford. He was very critical of the Bradford Family initiatives. Whilst at the time I strongly disagreed with him I have come to accept his point that we continually under achieve and as supporters we accept that. I think the success of Parky was that he recognised that and worked to change that mentality

      The comfort I take from all this is that once the football kicks off again all this will be forgotten and we really will have something to talk about!

  12. Woody/Phil
    Insolvency involves an inability to pay creditors as debts fall due. Rupp had a big black hole to fill with the enormous Rahic sized overspend when the OB money was not available or guaranteed. Any notional equity in the business is irrelevant. Please get your facts straight before responding. As before I am not responding to any further nonsense from you. I am sure John Dewhirst will fill you in as an experienced Insolvency Solicitor if you wish

    • Actually John is a chartered accountant and not a solicitor (to the best of my knowledge).

      • Apologies late night/surfeit of red wine. He does specialise in acting for underperforming Companies and has often made the point that walking away was on option.

      • I am a chartered accountant but not an insolvency practitioner. I work with under-performing businesses (restructuring, turnaround programmes and cash management) and undertake diligence on behalf of investors and lenders as well as investigations of fraud. Needless to say I am familiar with insolvency and can contradict the myth that a business can emerge from an insolvency process undamaged.

        Paul Westcott is correct in that the test of insolvency is the ability to pay debts when they fall due (it is also defined as surplus liabilities in relation to assets). I know that Stefan Rapp has injected monies to cover periods when wages could not otherwise have been paid. Ultimately he stands as the guarantor of the club’s viability and as Paul says, he could have walked away (notwithstanding the implications for his ‘investment’. Historically the club has looked for directors who could not only invest funds but also guarantee the club’s borrowings – KD Morrison for example joined the board in 1974 principally for the latter purpose.

        I first met Stefan in Munich in November, 2018 (it followed a series of conversations with him going back to the start of the year when I had shared observations about how the club was being run). We have had full and frank conversations and I am genuinely impressed with him as an individual. I am happy to go on record that I have found him to be an honourable, decent man and from my professional experience in a business context I feel sufficiently qualified and prepared to make that observation.

        In terms of the comments above, Andy is correct about the need for the Holy Trinity. I also believe that there are a lot of unrealistic and hopelessly naive observations being made. The football bubble has now well and truly burst which gives no-one the incentive to inject millions of pounds. The tide has gone out and we have a football club with no assets and a massive rental burden. However unlike other clubs we don’t have the debt and we have the support of an owner who is prepared to stand by the club.

        On a related matter, people get hung up on the extent of disclosure in the club’s published financial statements. In practice these are lag indicators and give little insight into the financial management and circumstances of running the club. Businesses fail through lack of cash and in any football club, the winter and summer months have always been a period of acute cash pressure – something which is never going to be visible in statutory accounts. In terms of financial management at Valley Parade, the failing has not been the extent of statutory disclosure. In 2018 for example, Rahic presided over a situation where internal management accounts were not prepared and there was no visibility or clarity over the club’s affairs. That has now been addressed and controls put in place but it meant that during 2018 the club was effectively running blind.

        As regards the statutory accounts I am looking to publish something online in the next few weeks that will hopefully address some of the concerns that have been raised and clear the misunderstanding that perpetuates a lot of the conspiracy theories that are afoot. Much of what is being said is ludicrous but I don’t think that the club has thus far done itself any favours by not clarifying. There is genuinely a commitment to greater transparency at Valley Parade and it is disappointing that the efforts of Ryan Sparks to provide transparency have been met by something of a frenzied attack by critics who will seemingly never be satisfied with the answers. Social media seems to have created a real toxic environment, quite unprecedented in all the time that I have supported the club and which will ultimately prove damaging.

  13. Paul, let’s put the equity issue aside since it is a subjective issue. What about the £2.5 ?million McBurnie windfall. By August, he knew the windfall was going to be significant. After spending £1.2 million to cover the monthly shortfalls, do you really think he would have walked away from the windfall?

    By the way, according to Sad Bantam you have a problem with getting your facts straight. I must concur.

  14. Paul, apology accepted. Stay safe.

  15. I agree about the online abuse. You should point the finger at the Cows Arse who need anonymous Twitter identities to give them the Dutch courage to insult and ridicule others. It has become a parody of itself and the Beavis & Butt-Head role play has given them a sense of power that has gone to their heads. Maybe time that the identities of those behind it were revealed.

  16. What a an excellent contribution from John Dewhirst, top quality,

    Thank you very much John.

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