A blunt instrument

By Ben Jones

On Tuesday, 25 November, John Wade published an article on this website stating “I’ve had enough of Bradford City”. It was heartfelt, pointed and sadly rang true for many. It attracted 38 comments – not a small amount – who’s opinions differed between him throwing the toys out of the pram to hitting the nail on the head.

Opinions are healthy. Opinions are good. Why support a team if you don’t invest heavily? John is a life long supporter who’s opinion matters. I agreed with much of his hurt, but personally will always turn up. A middle ground.

Yet today I am just angry. Do not bother reading on if you want the grace of Jason. The statistics of Tim. The rounded argument of Alex.

This is just a blunt instrument of truth.

City fans you get what you deserve. A young, well qualified and dedicated man in Ryan Sparks took up his dream role yesterday. And you categorically slated him for it on most social media outlets. It was brutal and frankly over the top. I do hope you are proud. If you didn’t want him appointed then ask yourself why no one else wanted the job.

An admission. I know, like, and have worked with Mr David Baldwin, Mr James Mason and Mr Ryan Sparks.

A further admission. As such I do have behind the scenes knowledge.

Admissions out of the way lets get down to brass tacks. Not one person had heard of Dave Baldwin before he was appointed by Mark Lawn. Dave had actually played for City as a young lad but many fans don’t know that either. He was quite revolutionary and turned the fortunes of the club. He went on to become the CEO of Burnley (the most successful in the club’s history) and the CEO of the EFL. He has a brain the size of Jupiter – believe you me.

When he was appointed I did not know him. I had no idea of his credentials I do not recall such vitriol aimed at him.

Didn’t turn out too bad did it?

I didn’t know James Mason when he was appointed. He oversaw, with complete aplomb, the most successful year in the club’s history. He wasn’t too bad was he? I think he’s got a rather impressive job promoting Yorkshire at the moment. Another CEO role. Boy done good. Did he face such vitriol?

Before that, the much maligned Shaun Harvey was promoted from a leading role at City to the CEO of the EFL.

We seem to have a track record.

Ryan is exceptional in modern times in that he has been promoted from within. Julian Rhodes made the concession in the Telegraph & Argus that he has been “leading the club on a day to day basis” and the decision was made “months ago”.

Having worked with Ryan for some time I can confirm this to be correct. I can also confirm that he is tenacious, ambitious, bloody minded and driven in the pursuit of success for Bradford City. He is very bright and determined. The only important factor you need to consider is that he will deploy this for the good of our club.

How many of those that slagged the appointment off yesterday have seen what he does or tries to achieve? How many have spoken with him? I have. And you are so badly wide of the mark.

He’s being castigated by folk who would struggle to run a bath, let alone a football club. As stated above, there is nothing wrong with opinions but quantify them, tell us why he will do a bad job. So far all I have seen is that he is a cheap option and he’s young.

Let’s assess this. He was appointed by Edin. He actually stood up to Edin – something I have witnessed with my own eyes – and told him some truths. He then saw the appointment of many managers. Tyrell Robinson. Relegation. The sacking of Bowyer. The appointment of McCall. Covid. Pay caps. A testing start for anyone. Where can you level any wrong doing at him? Where can you say he didn’t stand up to the plate for our club?

He has stuck by the club when many wouldn’t, and has yesterday made as bold a decision as one can make. Before the reader thinks I am a fan boy, or JR or SR in disguise, I actually disagree with this decision. But I am man enough to accept opposing opinions and decisions. I am certainly enthused someone has put their hands in their pants, found their mojo, and made a decision.

He is 29. So what? Do we not want someone with a desire to succeed? His mortgage depends on this. Isn’t that where you want your CEO? Not some fat cat old failure who’s been touted about elsewhere.

Those in support of Stuart loudly argue in support of continuity. Why employ someone who’s failed elsewhere when Stuart loves the club they shout. Ryan loves the club. He is yet to fail anywhere.

All City fans seem to want is the old. With absolutely no thought about it. Do you really think the departed CEO of a Premier League Club and the EFL would come back? Really? If so you do not understand wage structures, ambition and circumstance.

We have the old now and we are moaning in our droves that McCall isn’t good enough. He only got an extension because he is who he is. Those who want him sacked want Parky back. Or Gary Jones. Or Terry Dolan. They also moan that JR has taken the club backwards for 20 years.

Yet, when we employed a manager who worked us into play off contention who wasn’t one of our own we also chased him out. Yes, the football was bland, but get him out also. Brilliant stuff.

The fact is we have had few good years in many, many years. Those of late came about when we employed an outsider with vision. Who had an ethos and a plan. A man who built a ship.

Perhaps we need to stop castigating new ideas, the youth, and stop begging for the past. Because that’s what you get with the past. The same results.

And the way yesterday’s announcements have been met shows why we cannot attract the outsiders many so crave.

The club can only pull together if we assist. It’s chicken and egg. We need results to buy in, they need us to back them. This is age old.

Things are terrible at the moment. Yet many fans compound it. Cheer it on. Revel in it. We were once bound by our past and fate. We moaned and groaned but ultimately loved the club. Many now are attracted by slagging the club off as a pastime. Again, all opinions matter. Many raise serious food for thought.

But yesterday heralded a new era. We chose to slate it, not back it.

We get what we deserve.

Categories: Opinion


68 replies

  1. Thank goodness for some passionately expressed positivity!

  2. An interesting article by someone who clearly knows and likes Ryan.

    For those of us who don’t have your inside track could you maybe expand on why you think he will be a success ? To me he looks too young and too inexperienced and the parallels with Michael Collins are uncanny.

  3. I fully agree with what Ben Jones says and it comes after the online bully bullying that Ryan Sparks was subjected to during the summer. What is even more depressing is that the online invectives and vicious attacks have become predictable and BCAFC social media has become increasingly toxic. Needless to say there will be similar hysteria about something else next week and a bipolar reaction after the next defeat.

    The sheer negativity and stupidity is draining and it tends to be the same individuals spouting the same messages time and time again. What I find incredible is the binary, black and white perspectives and the lack of open-mindedness that has become so prevalent. For example the inference that everything and anything associated with Julian Rhodes is bad. What is even more incredible is that even a number of longstanding supporters are now talking about Geoffrey Richmond as though he could do and did no wrong. Maybe the simplistic and abbreviated thinking has been encouraged because Twitter has a strict limit on the length of comments.

    The crude scapegoating of people for the current state of affairs at VP is the equivalent of an internet lynch mob savagely seeking targets. I seriously question the mental stability and intelligence of those concerned. What is amazing is the lack of insight by the onion picklers who believe themselves qualified to say how the club should be run. As Ben says, many would struggle to run a bath which might account for the odour.

    It’s one thing for impressionable kids to be tweeting simplistic hateful comments but a lot of it comes from adults who should know better. Sadly there is a certain fraternity that knows nothing more than to propagate the same bile. Irrespective of having nothing civil or constructive to say they have a compulsive need to be heard. Thankfully it is a small, albeit loud minority but it has set the tone for BCAFC social media. The silent majority of City fans shun social media or remain silent on it because they don’t want to be subjected to ridicule or harassment if they express contrary opinions. Others, who you would like to think knew better, will go with the flow and endorse the cynicism because it’s a failsure way of getting a few likes.

    If anyone believes that this toxic atmosphere is good for individual mental health, let alone the wellbeing of the BCAFC community and the morale of those engaged at Valley Parade, they are deluding themselves. Neither is it supportive of the cause that we all supposedly have in common.

    The current downbeat mood is inevitably a consequence of the events of the last three years, not helped by a failing in communications by the club. However that is not an excuse for the attacks as described above by Ben. We are now at the point where the club has to rebuild and recover. As the new CEO, Ryan Sparks deserves and is entitled to our support to help him provide the necessary leadership.

    • John, I stopped reading at “bullying of Ryan” and “toxic social media”.

      Once again, the “bullying” you refer to was a few jokey tweets that went too far.

      The most toxic person on social media related to the club is you. Direct messaging me to “crawl back under your rock” and “just f… off”. Messaging others, making snide comments about other peoples intellect. Then blocking them.

      So give it a rest with the holier than thou act.

      I messaged Ryan last night to say that whilst I felt disappointed that we werent getting a “new broom”, I wished him every success and know from speaking to him that hes a determined and dedicated lad.

      Fans are entitled to their opinions, however unpalatable you may find them.

      So maybe stick to making your own points, and stop this relentless tirade about everyone who disagrees with you being “toxic”.

      I genuinely hope Ryan does the business.

      • Leon, I am not the only person who has spoken about toxic comments on Twitter or social media as the other postings below confirm.

        What you consider to have been a ‘few jokey tweets’ about Ryan was interpreted quite differently by others at the time but no doubt you and your chums derived some cheap laughs from them at someone else’s expense.

        No-one on Twitter is under any obligation to interact with others and the blocking function is there to stop the noise from people who you find tiresome and whose comments you consider to offer little. In the same way I am quite sure that you avoid certain people in a public setting if you do not enjoy their company. I have chosen to avoid interaction with yourself and around a dozen of your friends on Twitter for much the same reasons but principally because I am fed up with same stuck record and gravity free insinuations.

        You choose to ridicule me online in a public forum and then get upset when I DM you privately. I am not being holier than thou but equally I am not going to hold back from saying what I think in response. You are entitled to your opinions and so be it if you choose to disagree with me. That’s life. I have previously offered to meet to talk through your suggestions about a new stadium and exchange views about BCAFC but you have declined and that is your prerogative.

        My regret is that I had not blocked and muted you much sooner because I find the ‘jokey tweets’ et al extremely tedious. Besides it seems a fitting way to manage our relationship.

      • John you have literally mocked me multiple times on these very pages for my interest in stadia, so forgive me for not wanting to meet you in person given your sanctimonious, condescending and sometimes plain offensive manner.

        What exactly do you mean by “onion pickler” anyway. You and your followers seem to delight in suggesting people with opposite view “drive a white van” or have “dead end jobs”, betraying a pseudo intellectual arrogance and snobbery that further devalues your points.

        Jason, apologies for arguing with John on here again. I’ve said my piece and wont respond further.

      • Leon, Twitter may encourage infantile behaviour but this is not a playground gang fight. I don’t have ‘followers’ and my comments are not in collusion with Ben Jones or any of the people who have posted on this page or added likes/dislikes. Please draw the line and we can agree to disagree.

      • Honestly not sure why you periodically post on WOAP when you have a perfectly serviceable forum which fully reflects your own values? Regular readers/posters on this site are happy to give TCA a wide berth.
        Spare us the faux woke outrage about “white van man”. Its a well worn trope used by many. Why not just leave WOAP to us pretentious pseudo -intellectuals and you can happily insult and abuse us /the players/the club/ gompers/each other on TCA.

      • Paul, mate. That’s how you build an echo chamber. There’s room in the debate for both sides. Leon and myself are being scrupulously polite, we’re sticking to the tone of WOAP, why should we just disappear because we disagree?

      • Paul Westcott – I’ll post where I want mate. I respect Jason, his colleagues and many who make comments here. I observe the etiquette of this forum, so why should I not post here?

        I think if you cared to look back youd see that yourself and Mr Dewhirst are regularly insulting towards me rather than addressing any points I raise in a grown up and civilised manner. How I speak in other circles of my life or on other fora has no relevance to my posting here. Language is all about context, something which a genuinely enlightened person would understand.

        And the white van man schtick is tiresome classist rubbish which you and Mr D regularly exhibit. It adds nothing to the debate here and merely serves to offend. Perhaps it makes you feel superior to demean the arguments of others based on a (probably highly inaccurate) assumption about their day jobs.

        The double standards some of you fellas display is risible. Cheers.

    • John, I’m interested to know why you conflate negativity with stupidity. If things are bad surely it’s only sensible to point out the failings, if nobody does, how will anybody fix them? Going around pretending everything’s rosy while we’re in the midst of what is increasingly looking like a relegation season is a ridiculous position to take.

      For the record, at TCA we often have differences of opinion over the cheap season tickets initiative. Personally I believe they are positive and Rhodes and Lawn should be applauded for it, but not adjusting in line with inflation since they were introduced is commercial suicide. Equally, I don’t think anybody at TCA had a problem with Rhodes and Lawn’s incremental approach to improvement, until it turned out that the whole thing was built on sand. The first half of the decade saw incredible financial and on-field success but zero investment in the infrastructure of the club, when Parkinson left, he took everything with him. We have a training ground we share with a school that floods every year, no scouting set up, a ground we don’t own; what do we actually have?

      Like it or not, the considered opinion that we have come to at TCA is that the fact we are back where we started in 2010, fighting to stay in the Football League, is an inevitable consequence of the Julian Rhodes school of management. Put simply if the right structures had been in place when Rahic arrived, he would have either failed due diligence or we would have been in a position to bounce back quickly.

      Finally, maybe lay off on calling people who you disagree with and/or express themselves different to you stupid, it’s really poor argument. Would Yanis Varoufakis automatically be stupid if you disagreed with him and he was speaking Greek?

      • I can’t speak Greek and I do not agree with everything that Yanis Varoufakis has to say but I respect him for what he has achieved, his intelligence and the manner in which he makes his arguments. He is above all a civilised individual with an interesting background. I have one of his books but that is another matter.

        I doubt very much that Yanis would be found on TCA articulating his opinions in the house style and unlike Greek I don’t think that the TCA lingua franca could be processed through Google Translate. I have no doubt that there are intelligent and original observations made on TCA if you can be bothered to look beyond the expletives. However that doesn’t mean to say that there are not stupid people online which there are. And please don’t think that because I don’t subscribe to your Julian Rhodes All is Bad Thesis that I believe everything to be rosy at VP. It is just not as black and white as you make out.

      • That’s literally not what I said though is it John? I gave you a concrete example of something I applaud Rhodes for, which you’ve ignored for the sake of your argument. I refer you back to the thrust of my previous comment; try understanding people who express themselves differently instead of just calling them stupid.

        Also, if you’re such a problem with swearing, how do you make it through a live football match?

        Couple of things before I pop off and drop some C-bombs elsewhere, do you think its a sign of good management that we have nothing to show for the success we had in the first five years of the decade? Do you think Rhodes and Lawn did enough due diligence before selling to Rupp, given that Rahic was central to the deal?

      • I wrote a feature on WOAP previously about the club’s finances and the constraints and I suggest that you re-read it. I am not wasting time repeating because I don’t really think you are interested in what I have to say and I am not going off-subject.

        I have no issue with constructive criticism as I have said repeatedly in the past. The matter in discussion in Ben’s feature is the senseless negativity, nihilistic, hateful as well as unsubstantiated comments which you presumably cannot distinguish. I am not conflating negativity and stupidity. There are intelligent people who are negative and there are stupid people who are negative.

        I do not have an issue with swearing and have been to plenty football matches and concerts in the past 40 odd years. I am however glad that I am not sat in your vicinity at VP. In the Midland Road stand at least the swearing is limited. Readers can make their own judgement whether the language of TCA is representative of where they sit at VP.

        As regards diligence, I know from experience that the best guarantee of 100% accuracy is with hindsight which you are proud to possess. Lawn & Rhodes both rejected the Italian bidder in 2015 as lacking credibility so cannot be accused of taking the first offer on the table.

        The vast majority of supporters were positive about the German takeover. Rupp clearly failed in his own character judgement about Rahic (despite knowing him better than L&R) as did most others, but he is neither the first nor the last person to chose the wrong partner in business (or indeed in marriage) and then later regret. You miss the point that Lawn & Rhodes would have been damned had they not sold the club because they didn’t have the financial resources to progress having reached a glass ceiling.

        I’ll leave you to discuss political economy and philosophy with Yanis. Have a good evening.

      • Are you kidding? Successful entrepreneur worth €180 million with an impeccable business record offers you an inflated price for a business with no assets. What would you have done differently? Maybe you can let us know what checks could have been made on his CEO other than having a fairly reasonable assumption that he would not go in with a complete plank given his previous success. Half baked and naive analysis yet again

    • Brilliant. It’s a joy to read something other than the ignorant posts that I’ve read in the past.
      Good luck And & Stuart and shut the moaners up.

  4. An interesting article from someone who clearly knows and likes Ryan. Nothing wrong with being pleased your mate has got his dream job !

    For those of us without such an inside track a follow up article on why the writer thinks he will be a success would be really interesting.

    From the outside Ryan looks very young and inexperienced for such a senior role (very very few businesses have 29 year old CEO’s in any sector) and the parallels with the appointment of Michael Collins are uncanny.

    Clearly though Ben has a different opinion so maybe we could hear about what makes Ryan such an exceptional candidate for the role ?

    • A bit confused by your stance, a passionate defence of the CEO appointment, but you also say you think a wrong decision was made. Are you referring to the managerial extensions? Or Ryan Spark’s decision to accept the offered role?

      My view, as it always is, is to back the decisions made, & fervently hope both judgements work out. Keen they all succeed, for the benefit of all of us. As for the social media, I’ve read none of it and steer clear of the bile. I’d like to think the majority of the fanbase do the same.

    • Rob, please go back and re-read what Ben has written. Nowhere in his post has he said that he believes Ryan will be a success – hard working? Yes. Dedicated? Yes. Well qualified? Yes but ultimately a success? No, he does not say that. In fact at one point Ben writes “I actually disagree with this decision” (to appoint Ryan). What he does ask, though, is for fans to give Ryan time and to stop the vile, vicious, unnecessary bile expressed towards him on social media. If I could turn the question back on you, as Ben asks in his post, “tell us why he (Ryan) will do a bad job”. I would be interested in your response. For the record, I think that given the position the Club find themselves in, plus the pandemic and all the problems associated with it, Mr Sparks is an extremely brave young man and deserves our full support.

  5. As I’ve posted on the Jason’s Ryan Sparks article – we’re giving talented youth their chance on the pitch, so why not carry that ethos into the boardroom?

    • Talented youth with no guidance will see us in a relegation battle. Feel a bit sorry for the lad. McCall shouldn’t be getting rewarded for an awful season. Really bad timing from the club. All they had to say is where 100 per cent behind the manager, his recruitment has been all wrong again.

  6. great article some of the key board warriors just cant wait for their own team to lose so can pop up and slag off anyone or everyone connected with any result .We need stability we need hope and a bit of luck and this now gives us a chance Stuart has now got 3 windows in the transfer market to get his team the one he wants not players just wanting a payment every month so we can build and go forward .
    The mentality of losing a few games and sack the manager had to stop and now it has !
    Good luck Alex and Stuart is the right man at this moment in time .

  7. Thank you Ben for that. It baffles me how anyone can criticise and condemn Ryan Sparks without knowing him.
    I have to say that my gloom was slightly lifted by the 2 events yesterday.
    Maybe the appointment of Ryan and Stuart will be successful. Maybe not.
    I personally have a bit of faith. Possibly more so in the case of Ryan.
    But please give them a chance.

  8. I totally agree with Ben and John D.. nothing to add to their sane and wise words. I see no evidence that new managers would do better than Stuart. After all Grayson and Bowyer had good track records but when it came to it both disappointed greatly and contributed t the mess we are in. As for the new CEO he knows the club, apparently spoke up against Rahic and has the motivation to succeed. He seems to me no greater risk than any outsider. Good luck to him and lets give him and Stuart some time and space to turn things round

  9. Good article. Maybe slightly biased depending on how well the author knows Ryan, but there again, it may not!
    For some, if we don’t hire personnel externally, then we are deemed to be ‘tin-pot’! Why? Plenty of businesses in the past and will continue to do so in the future, see appointments come to fruition from within.
    Guarantees? Never. But if the hierarchy who know Ryan better than most have placed their trust in him to deliver, then as fans we must believe. After all, as fans jump from week to week, month to month, season to season, that’s what we do. BELIEVE.

  10. Mature insight sadly lacking elsewhere. You only have to reluctantly dip your toe into TCA to understand that there is virtually no serious thought or decency behind the superficial bollocks you can get on twitter. Ryan will know from his personal dealings with City fans that on the whole they are sensible and supportive. Good luck lad.

    • I am equally bemused by the idiots on Twitter and having seen The Cows Arse forum I struggle to comprehend why any self-respecting or intelligent person would want to be associated with it. These individuals have found a platform to be heard which no doubt is denied to them in their daily lives, in dead end jobs or whatever. It is difficult to take them seriously but because they crave attention and genuinely believe that they have something profound to say they resort to insults and shouting louder when they are ignored. Sadly the impressionable kids think it’s cool to behave that way and not be accountable for throwing insults on social media. We need to remember whilst they make lots of noise it is a very small number of people lacking any sort of credibility. The only resort is to ignore and block your ears unfortunately.

      • Totally agree. Well put.

        These moronic few on Twitter and TCA do not speak for the silent thousands who cannot wait to spew their negative bile at the earliest opportunity with nothing to back it up.

        You only have to see the language used to understand the type. I’m no saint, but why do they feel the need to use crude emotive language.

        We all want the same thing, but I guess this is what the internet brings, and any idiot can hide behind their anonymity.

        I know if I was an anybody, I’d avoid reading the internet like the plague.

        I hope RS and SM do the same, as it would kill me trying to do a positive job.

        I think this could be part of the lack of confidence in the players. They do too much internet these days and must pick up on the bile of these kid warriors which must knock their confidence.

        And there lies the problem, those who shout loudest seem to get heard.

      • The loudest individuals do not have the insight to recognise either their lack of knowledge or the adverse effect of their cheap and nasty tweets. By being anonymous they can avoid being accountable and it provides them with Dutch courage. People at VP confirm social media has impacted on the mood in the squad and among the staff and you only have to consider how it must feel for Ryan Sparks to have his promotion greeted by such a barrage of invective. Thank God for the block function on Twitter.

      • If professional footballers get upset by Twitter when they’re 20th in League Two and lost 5-0 at home to *Lincoln City*, then they need to put their big boy pants on, turn their phones off and focus on their day job.

        If Sparks gets upset by what people on Twitter say about him then he also needs to put his big boy pants on. He’s in charge of the club, he’s the big boss, this is all on him now.

        Let’s hope he’s a fast learner.

  11. The whole argument about age and experience, is valid, but a vast array of comments are only focusing on the negatives and there has been little balance in some of the responses.

    History tells us that many young(er) people, can take on roles of great responsibility and enjoy success. Look at Alexander the Great (age 20 when crowned), Pitt the Younger (Prime Minister at the age of 24), Thomas Fairfax and John Lambert (Yorkshire Generals at the age of 30). The vast array of musicians are at their creative peak in their 20’s and 30’s. The same can be said for authors and artists. In technology, Brin and Page founded Google in their 20’s. Turing was in his late 20’s at Bletchley Park. Jobs was 21 when he founded Apple. Zuckerberg was in his early 20’s when he created Facebook. The list of young, dynamic and successful people goes on and on.

    So before everyone comes out with their knives, step back a little and take a breath. Perhaps Ryan needs some support rather than just criticism.

    We are where we are, lets reach out and get behind him. This is our club, I am nowhere near ready to wave it goodbye.

  12. If he’s been running the club for the last few months, during which time we’ve ended up with the worst squad in a decade and staring relegation to non-league in the face, he really isn’t well-qualified.

    • Where did you get the information to give people the impression Sparks has ‘been running the club for the last few months’ ‘Bob’? It would be a shame to find that you have misrepresented the facts, either by mistake or deliberately, because of the way that these sorts of statements can have the effect of undermining an individual’s abilities. Particularly amongst those supporters whom thrive on any scrap of negativity, whether true or false.

      You may not be making an intentional attempt to undermine Sparks on the day of his publicly announced taking over of the full role and responsibility of the CEO role, it may just be a mistake? But, it sounds to me that you are you suggesting Sparks was ‘running the club’ at the time McCall was putting his squad together and that Sparks was in charge of the player budget and signing off of player contracts etc? What was Julian Rhodes doing during ‘the last few months’ if Sparks is responsible for the ‘worst squad in a decade’?

      I am aware that Sparks was promoted to director of communications and commercial -as well as continuing with his previous duties in his marketing role- at the back-end of July. Do you think you could be confusing his vast area of responsibilities with those different responsibilities of the CEO?

      You questioned the level of ‘due-dilligence’ of Rhodes and Lawn prior to selling the Club to Rupp and Rahic in one of your posts above -which is fair enough- so I am sure you will agree with me asking you to demonstrate that you have also done YOUR due-diligence and to provide your evidence in support of strongly implying that Sparks should be held responsible for where the team sits in league 2 at the moment.

      • Like others, Bob Riggle has his dogma and won’t be shifted from what he thinks. He doesn’t want evidence or to hear a contrary argument because he knows he is right. He makes bold unsubstantiated statements and sees the world in black and white and then cries victimisation when his comments are rubbished. It brings a wry smile in the irony that on the one hand he prides himself in anti-intellectualism and on the other that he cites Yanis Varoufakis.

        Too many people use online platforms to shout what they think rather than to be open to what others have to say or a contrary perspective. The postings on this feature demonstrate the futility of any suggestion that BCAFC should be a fan-owned club because decisions would be based on who shouted the loudest as opposed to the substance of an issue. It is frankly depressing.

      • It’s in the article above, this bit:

        Ryan is exceptional in modern times in that he has been promoted from within. Julian Rhodes made the concession in the Telegraph & Argus that he has been “leading the club on a day to day basis” and the decision was made “months ago”.

    • ‘Bob’, if you had carried out a little due diligence maybe you would have found this: ‘Rhodes revealed that the decision had been made a couple of months ago.

      During that time, Sparks has been involved in more and more of the decision-making as Rhodes prepared to step aside. The only area where he had not had a say up to now has been with recruitment’.


  13. Well said Ben 👏🏻
    The voice of reason and speaking for the silent majority 👍🏻
    I for one am delighted with yesterday’s double appointment. Both men clearly have the desire, ambition and vision to take our club forward, but it won’t be easy in these unprecedented tough times. Fans need to show patience and unity and remember the one thing we ALL have in common, despite our differing opinions, is the love for our club.

  14. Thank goodness for Width of a Post. The place for adult analysis, views and debate. Long May it prosper.

  15. The main gripe people are having is that for all the good work you are saying he is doing behind the scenes and having ‘been running things day to day’ for a while now the clubs trajectory is currently downwards. If as suggested we are already on Ryan’s watch what evidence is there to suggest he’s going to turn anything around or even slow the downward trajectory a bit? Asking the guy presiding over the decline learning from the guy before him presiding over the decline offers very little to get positive about.

    People look at this from the outside and it looks lazy. People want some hope and optimism injecting into the club and giving the gig to the guy who was running the twitter feed 3 years ago ain’t gonna give anyone hope. It will arguably turn more people away. This was a golden opportunity to get someone in with fresh eyes to look at things and try turn the good ship Bradford city around. Squandered (in my opinion)

    A poor December and we are really going to be in a fight to retain our football league status, a far cry from knocking on the door of the championship. But hey, a guy there through the decline since then really is the best we can muster?

    A few genuine questions I’d love to know the answers to.
    1. What happened to the Hew Jenkins interest?
    2. Honestly, how many people were considered for the role of ceo?
    3. After the lies of the summer over Vaughan and our ambition why should I trust a single word the club says?

    I want city to do well, progress, be a positive impact on people’s lives, make them feel good when the world at the minute feels a bit shit, nothing I have seen to date makes me think any of the above will be coming our way anytime soon….

    I’ll end this with the following, I hope he proves me wrong.

    • 1.Do you really think Huw Jenkins would seriously consider a salaried position in a small business in Bradford? Where would the money come from to pay him?
      2.Professional sport management is a VERY smaii pool. Identifying someone available,affordable with the right background is not going to be easy. If you have an internal candidate who shows promise,knows the business and is a known quantity (not a Rahic) there is sense in promoting from within.
      3.How did the club “lie” with regard to Vaughan?

      • “We would not want someone like James Vaughan to walk out of our club and we certainly wouldn’t hand him to a rival without significant compensation.”

        Ryan Sparks, 28th July

        There were plenty of well documented stories from credible journalists linking Jenkins with City.

      • 1. There was a lot of speculation from pretty reliable sources that jenkins was interested, in what capacity I do not know but I would still be interested to find out what happened.
        2. It may be small but did we even look? Probably not hence the laziness comment. Sometimes fresh eyes from outside spot the problems a lot quicker than someone already in the business.
        3. Someone else has pointed this out.

        The proof will be in the pudding I guess but the costs if this goes badly could be terminal for the club.
        I think these questions are valid, and much as I’d like to be wrong I worry about where we’ll be in 2 or 3 years time.

      • What else would you expect him to say at a time when they hoped to keep him!? There was absolutely no choice once he made it clear he wanted away come what may. Tranmere were happy to wait and cash in. To suggest there was a deliberate intention to deceive is highly misleading.
        We are concerned with the appointment of a salaried CEO in a business which is not even large by our provincial standards not a sale of the club (and there is no evidence that there was a serious offer on the table if any)
        I had personally hoped DB would return on the basis of sentiment and the desire for a less onerous role (?!) given his family commitments. Sadly this was also wishful thinking. He has outgrown us.

      • Bradford City is a multi-million pound business. It’s not a multinational PLC, but it’s not a corner shop either.

        I hope to God he’s good because he’s what we’ve got. But he’s never owned a business and never run a business. He’d better be a fast learner.

  16. I was heartened too by the events of yesterday.
    Whilst one was a predictable move and the other less so, they both combined to remove a layer of uncertainty from the equation

    We now know who our CEO is and we now know who our manager is.
    It removes endless uniformed speculation and gives us a stability to work with.
    The two individuals will stand or fall by their actions. They both know that

    I personally have no doubts that Stuart will succeed if he his given the backing and I think that he stands a better chance of doing so now.
    I dont know Ryan having only spoken to him on the telephone briefly
    I didnt know David Baldwin when he arrived but worked quite closely with him on certain projects. He always impressed me greatly with the way his brain worked.
    I was not surprised when he went on to bigger and better things.
    If Ryan.is half as effective then his appointment will be a great success.
    If I was asked to give any advise to Ryan it would surround the area of communication with the fans.
    They need to be made to be part of the club, and have ownership.
    They have a need to know what’s going on.
    They need to be involved.
    In my experience if you keep the City fans informed of everything even things that may not be popular it is all they ask for.
    I have to say there has not been enough of that.
    So welcome to a new era with out the muddying of the water and a new clarity which can only be of benefit

    • I completely agree about communication. This was an area where in my opinion James Mason was excellent. Since he left/got pushed out we hear nothing from the club other than meaningless tripe about how the lads worked hard and deserved better. Well fans also deserve better and I’m hoping this improves going forward

      • ..and who was in charge of communication Andy? Director of Communications…..Ryan Sparks…wonder why people are concerned?

  17. Simple question, what are Ryan Sparks qualifications for the job and his past achievements that warrant him being fast tracked to become CEO???

    • You could ask me the same question Woody. What qualifications do I have to be a Business Analyst? Erm… I’ve got a History A Level and a smattering of GCSEs. But I also have drive, determination, business knowledge and experience. I am successful in my own organisation and that’s good enough for you.

      What are your qualifications to analyse and criticise the decisions taken by this football club? Genuine query.

      • We weren’t Harvey’s first job, Baldwin ran a successful recruitment business before us.

        So what experience does Ryan bring? He was the PR bod for the Bulls then the same for Featherstone Rovers. He’s never managed anything, never run anything. His degree is in PR.

        I hope I’m wrong, but I’m not seeing what amazing talent and experience he’s got that makes him such a shoo-in.

    • After four hours, no response to my question other than seven thumbs down. I’m not surprised because the acceptance of Ryan Sparks requires a massive leap of faith/belief that he is qualified and capable of being successful in the CEO role. Self confidence and eloquence are definite assets for a role in Marketing and Public Relationships but the CEO role requires far more experience, leadership and decision making/problem solving skills. For example, City have an abundance of issues to resolve, what in his career to date shows that he is capable of making tough decisions and problem solving?

      Two years of searching for a new CEO and we are left with a decision that is very similar to the hiring of Michael Collins. I think fans have very legitimate reasons to be disappointed and skeptical. Only those with rose tinted glasses can have no reservations. This appointment smells of desperation. Just like Stuart’s signing of Samuels.

      • Jeez Woody. You didn’t even answer my question.
        As usual it’s the head in the sand, rose tinted specs, happy clappers assumptions and phrases that do your argument no favours.
        1 I’m not delighted with the appointment.
        2 I am worried about my club
        3 I am willing to let the new appointments build something.
        I hope it’s a success and I have faith that we have all we need in from a management perspective the club to turn this round.

        Just need some better players.

  18. To be honest I saw lots of good luck messages yesterday and a fair number praising the appointment so I do find this article a little over biased to slagging off City fans. Every club has their ‘keyboard warrior’ element who are just looking to vent off or to try and get a raise by achieving as many responses as possible. I think true fans have every right to question what happened yesterday – and for the record I am behind the decisions as it has been the uncertainty that is one of the reasons we are making no progress – but what is now required is needed is a clearer vision of what these changes will hopefully mean for the club, and most of all a vision of fresh hope for the fans who have suffered 3 abysmal years through very poor leadership.
    Lets just hope we can start to pick things up on Saturday, a good Cup run is always good for the soul 🙂

  19. I haven’ t read any of the social media stuff (unless you count WOTP) and I don’t know the new CEO. Fortunately, I probably live too far away (well 25 miles and Tier 2) to pick up on all the rubbish.
    I spent 38 years with my first employer from office boy to CEO of a relatively large PLC. It was hard work all the time and difficult at first persuading people that age isn’t the criteria for success. It’s ability that counts coupled with very hard work and, yes, occasionally, a bit of good luck. So Ryan, work hard (as I am sure you will) and be lucky. Oh, and if you look too young, don’t worry, just grow a beard. It worked for me!!!

  20. I have no problems with Sparks. I don’t know the man. Many fans form their opinion on performances. I for one is critical on the season thus far. I like Stuart and I hope he can get us out of this bad phase. It is clear Stuart has made mistakes tactically and his recruitment strategy. I agree Sparks should not be criticised for being appointed CEO. The way the club is being run at the moment is generating a vast amount of criticism. This cannot be brushed aside. The fans are the life blood of this club and have a right to express their opinion on the way the club is run be it on the pitch or the cost of season tickets. That will never change (even if we were the top of the Premier League). The club needs to be transparent in its dealings. If false rumours are going round they need to be addressed by the club and not allowed to fester.

    Criticism of Stuart’s recruitment is my main concern. I do not know the level of support he was given during the transfer window. His recruitment in the right areas and the lack of backup in key areas is a concern. This is one of the main reasons we are in this position. Fans will feel let down and angry (hence the negative comments on social media). What we don’t know is what financial constraints were placed on Stuart during that phase. Again, lack of transparency.

    I have said this before, Stuart needs help and he needs it now. He needs someone to assess potential players with good attitude and ability. This needs to happen before we start to recruit in the January window. I feel that Sparks will hopefully find that help soon. I hope the combination of Stuart and the new CEO will move this club forward.

  21. My only complaint with this article is the praise of Shaun Harvey…a clueless “Yes Man” at City and those East of Pudsey and look what happened to both at the time!

    I can only assume he got anywhere near the Football League CEO because he knew where the bodies were buried.

  22. Great article Ben Jones you have unearthed the biggest problem we have(Pride)coupled with the facts of a few seasons of abysmal failure and relegation and the club apparently torn apart in the office. The fans have taken to pointing the finger at the slightest failure in anything or anyone and clinging to the fine exploits of years gone by, But its really all happened so fast being at the top of div1 and trips to wembley to crashing head first into the basement of div2 i guess anyone would complain but here we are no room for complaints dust ourselves off and ready ourselves for recovery and i see in Stuart’s interviews with the radio presenters some snapping back over criticism on the teams display and coupled with this article shows early green shoots of a turnaround.
    For the more critical among us remember its a lot harder to work to please than it is to criticise.
    Football is a team game which does require a lot of confidence and I’m sure when you’ve given your all and still lost the last words you want to hear is ”your not fit to wear the shirt” ITS now time to support and if you cannot then ”Bite yer lip” and say nowt (its soonest mended)
    From where we are to where we want to be Stuart is the only man with the right credentials to lift us up so give him some slack and give him a chance

  23. Thank the lord for WOAP! I always look forward to new articles on here even if sometimes i might not agree with some of the opinions expressed but at least its presented in a calm level headed way.
    After a loss i usually try ignore Facebook and the T and A comments in particular, the same old constant negative knee jerk reactions from the usual attention seeking abusive individuals.
    Thank you WOAP for keeping my enthusiasm in City alive😊

  24. There speaks the voice of reason
    Let’s hope the Happy clappers wannabe managers merchants of doom & negativity spreaders stop long enough to take the heads out of the bottoms and realise if we don’t all pull together we have nothing
    This great club has faced the very darkest of times and we never forget the ones we lost so lets show them that same courage that we showed on that darkest of day United we stand divided we fall its our choice but always city till we die

  25. Excellent stuff and to the point but forget trying to stop the merchants of bile. Its in their dna, they love it and live for it from getting out of bed to getting back in. Unfortunately its the horrible, nasty world we now live in. These people have Ryan Sparks a dead man walking before his feet are under the desk. So welcome to your new job Ryan , I hope your shoulders are broad and can prove the doubters wrong. The bile merchants won’t stop but they can at leas turn their attention elsewhere.

  26. I cannot understand why anyone in the public eye would want to be on twitter. It merely sets them up as a target because there are a lot of bitter and twisted people in the world we live in. Years ago, the nearest we got to social media was a few letters in the T&A. So, Ryan, first job, get yourself off it. The football world coped admirably without twitter years ago.

    One only has to look at the City forum in the T&A. It’s dominated by three individuals, arguing amongst themselves and repeating the same old tosh day after day. If I was a city player or official, I wouldn’t give it the time of day.

    That’s the reason I mainly confine myself to WOAP where, thankfully, a degree of sanity reigns.

    As for Ryan’s appointment, I’ve no view, simply because I don’t know the man.We will all be able to draw our own conclusion as time progresses. It’s Stefan’s perogative to appoint who he wants and I wish Ryan a successful future with the club.

  27. Shaun Harvey came to us after doing the job of Club Secretary at Scarborough under Richmond.

    David Baldwin came to us after a long track record of success in the recruitment industry, including running his own business before selling it for a small fortune.

    Both also had the benefit of chairmen who were involved in the day to day running of the club.

    Ryan Sparks comes to us after, er, running the PR for Featherstone Rovers.

    I’ve nothing against the guy, I’m sure he’s a lovely bloke, but it’s hardly the track record of success that’s going to turn the ship around. Especially as he’s in charge, with Rupp nowhere to be seen.

    But yes, everyone who questions the appointment is a “nobody” who “doesn’t understand the situation”.

    • Davr, you are absolutely spot on with what you have posted, i rarely post on this site and prefer to gauge opinion normally. Now i’m going to stick my neck out .I have a family connection to the very highest level in football, and have done for many years, but cannot say specifics so forgive the vagueness, but they were amazed that Ryan had been promoted to CEO, for some of the reasons you mentioned. I know folk will doubt what I’ve said but, it makes me smile the rubbish other people write, they don’t know the half of what goes on in football, including esteemed contributors to this and other sites.

  28. We are where we are I have never blamed Stuart ,I always thought he was not backed in the summer hence the lack of quality signings and the numbers he was allowed to sign ,now in my view it’s s clean slate let’s see what happens in January,regarding Ryan I don’t know anything about him ,but I say if you are good enough to be given a position by a very successful businessman he must have impressed him ,so good luck Ryan ,but I still want our owner to now clear the air and make a statement of vision for the club. I

  29. Stability, Stability, Stability

    I would rather have this, than what has gone before, I see a move here to grant time to move forward for all, ok we have someone who is untried in a more serious role, but has a good working relationship with the manager and let’s face it, not someone who is going to come in and start making massive impact changes, all decisions will be fully supported by all involved and everyone knows their role, I heard SM say that they could bring in 4 or 5 in January in an earlier interview, so that tells me money has been held back in the salary cap and I do reckon changes will come soon, although I do think that we could do with someone in recruitment to help out SM on potential targets to show Him whats in the shop window.

    So I am going to get behind the new regime as we know what we have got for 18 months to build and nobody is going to come in and rock the boat that will be a Happy Camp within the Club and that for me is a massive plus to go forward.

  30. Thank you. I agree with you and despair of the new negative mentality within a section of the fan base. Haven’t you walked back up from VP to Manningham Lane,or wherever, when things much much worse? And still turned up for the next match?
    Ryan Sparks should be welcomed and given a fair start and we should be relieved that Stuart and Kenny + others still have enough faith in City to sign up for a longer term.

  31. Whilst being slightly surprised that Ryan Sparks was appointed in such a senior position I hope the lad succeeds, if he does then Bradford City succeeds and surely that’s what we all want? I’m encouraged that we also seem to be looking into the future and now Stuart has to produce results on the pitch and in the next few transfer windows.
    Unfortunately there are some very vocal fans who seem desperate for blood. Give Ryan a chance, give Stuart a chance and maybe if we get behind them they might just deliver, we are surely stronger together. Everyone must realise that whats manifesting on the pitch is a result of years of mismanagement from the top. There is no quick fix unfortunately, we need to consolidate and rebuild and that takes time. The appointments this week have steadied the ship somewhat and that can only be a good thing

  32. Sadly, today is a prime reason why the keyboard warriors have a point – we were a shambles 😦

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