Bradford City takeover attempt: Owner of a not so lonely heart

By Jon Maher

The people who know me know I’m a Bradford City fan. 

People who I meet for the first time, usually find out I’m a Bradford City fan quite early in our conversations. As for most people, my football team is part of my identity. 

I know people who support other teams. Friends of friends are often described as “Dave… the Walsall fan”. I know people who don’t like football, or don’t support a team. That’s part of their identity too.

The reason I feel the need to assert this is against the backdrop of the rumours of a takeover discussions taking place with the American group WAGMI United  – which our current chairman suggests are embryonic at best

There is a LOT to unpick and digest from what they propose. And a lot you can take either way:

  • They have a network of 30+ of “the best minds in the world” – Well 30 heads can be better than one, but too many cooks have many-a-broth spoiled.
  • They are gamblers, either in name or deed – We had a chairman who gambled just over 20 years ago. We nearly folded, but for the period before then, when we pulled ace after ace, were the best times in living memory. 
  • The are big on marketing – On their Twitter spaces session, there was chat about name changes and badge changes and that being “off the table”. Was the recent survey of City fans sent out before Christmas related to this as a ‘test-the-water’? Or purely (a big) coincidence?
  • They are big on data and analytics – Difficult to argue with this when the Brentford ‘MoneyBall’ story is told. But we don’t hear of the times it hasn’t worked.

But perhaps the most unnerving element to the proposals is the thing that appears at the very core of their approach. Non-fungible tokens. Or NFTs. It basically is a market to trade one-off items that can’t be replaced by something else. For more detail I’ll let you do you own googling on the subject, whilst I dust off my old economics GCSE…

Value is still driven by demand and supply. Supply in the world of NFTs is relatively easy to control. And would be in the world of BCAFC. There is only one Wetherall header against Liverpool. One Jimmy Spiers’ Cup winner. There is only one, at the time of writing, Chib Chilaka.

So what of demand? Would ‘owning’ Big Jim’s header against our friends of East Pudsey appeal? I already own my memory of the goal, and the aftermath of kissing the bald head of a fellow fan who is sadly no longer with us. I can, and do, watch the goal on YouTube most mornings. And evenings.

So, what more do I need to own? I pondered this question last night having listened to the Twitter spaces of our supposed new owners. If I think about whether buying a token to lay claim to “ownership” (but not really) to part of my club would appeal, well I have to say I don’t feel like I need it. I’ve never owned shares in the club. Have never sat on the board. I just sit in my seat and bemoan sideways passes every other weekend. 

But my, and your, “ownership” is already recognised. We are owners of the club’s heart. And it’s future. We always have been.

All ‘proper’ owners of clubs, new and old, realise the need to get the supporters onside (even if they have to pay an expensive consultancy to explain what onside means). And if they don’t appreciate that, then, eventually, it’s ‘auf wiedersehen’.

The only motivation I could see for buying one would be if I could make some money from it (proper money, pounds and pence). If I could be brave enough to go early whilst the people who sit around me at VP were having NFTs explained to them by their grandchildren, could I scramble my way up the pyramid? That doesn’t sit well.

And I’m not entirely sure how even that spurious profiteering goal would be achieved? Do I need to resell my NFT? To whom? To the second wave of City fans waving their digital wallets in the air? If we don’t buy them, does ‘Brad from Wisconsin’ lay claim to more ownership in Bradford City than I do? Did he make both trips to Exeter this season?

And if I’m not supposed to sell, and merely keep it as badge of honour, a proof of my ‘stake’ in Bradford City AFC, then why would I buy something I already feel I own?

BCAFC often owns the outright majority of my waking thoughts. Every away trip in the car becomes an EGM with the agenda of “needing a Gary Jones type”. So it’s fair to say I, like you, am already recognised as an owner of Bradford City, and all its constituent parts. 

We are the members of the board of thousands. 

We’re shareholders in every goal, win and corner that doesn’t make it past the first man. 

Since I was founded, I’ve invested my spirit, passion and love. 

And that love that has always been, and will forever remain non-fungible. 

Bradford City takeover coverage:

Is there a good proposal underneath all the nonsense and bluster? Probably not. 

Categories: Opinion


6 replies

  1. Brilliant piece Jon and from the heart. Great perspective.

  2. Are we prepared to a gamble in the “Last Chance Saloon” the Clubs future because crypto currency really is the Wild West of the finance world. How long before the beardy IT geeks realise that they are not going to make their seed money back and pull the plug? We are very unlikely to survive another insolvency.Who in all honesty outside this homely Pennine backwater will buy City NFT’s as opposed to existing global brands? As a business model it is highly speculative even before you factor in the chance of the whole Crypto-economy going tits up and taking us with it. Big fat no from me.

  3. I cannot even pretend to have got my head around NFTs but speculation in tulip bulbs 300 years ago did for the finances of many a Dutchman. At least the bulbs proved to have a use value in the end. These are snake-oil salesmen, basically, even if they don’t know it themselves. I didn’t read anything in the Washington Post article that intimated the connection with the Philadelphia 76ers went as far as gambling with the finances of that club. Only Bradford City, it seems, are worthy of such attention. If the EFL were to allow this to go ahead, should Rupp be interested, it would confirm that the people running English football are only interested in asset stripping and quick bucks.

  4. I would be very wary of anybody who counts themselves amongst the ’30 best minds in the world’s.
    Who says they are?
    Their mums ?
    Seriously this could well represent the end game, or the last chapter for Bradford City.
    Control would be completely out of the hands of those who love the club.
    Who is to say that six months in they decide to move the ‘franchise’ to another part of the country
    Who is to say what will happen to crypto currency?
    If it was that easy to make lots of money dont you think the Manchester Uniteds with their global brand would be leading the game?

  5. Great article Jon, & I relate totally to sceptical tone of it.
    I read with a degree of sadness at this whole supposed proposal, & of the dark place we as a football club now appear to find ourselves in. Are we really at the point where we are forced to seriously consider selling our club’s soul to anyone we don’t know, trust, or understand, in the nieve rose tinted hope that these ‘brilliantly minded’ people have Bradford City at the heart of all they do, & that it won’t all end in yet another damaging failed project? If we really are drinking in this last chance saloon, as it seems we are, then this gamble, if or when it goes wrong, will I feel certain finally see the landlady calling last orders for good. We may be fast approaching a crossroads in our long history, & we need to proceed with he’ll of alot of care. I still remember Bradford having two football league clubs, proud clubs too. If we need a wake up call, let’s learn the stark lessons of history & make certain we don’t blindly follow the kind of stupidity that ultimately lead to the humiliating end of Bradford (PA) as a league club. I’m not being dramatic when I say we could be just one more bad choice away from potentially either dropping out of the league, or simply financially going under.
    All that glitters is not gold. Or should that be, all that glitters is usually a brightly packaged shiny con trick that more often than not takes all it can before moving on to the next project, leaving you to somehow try & pick up the pieces.
    We still have one football league in Bradford, & a very unique & special one at that, nothing is worth gambling with that. Just my opinion.
    Up the Bantams!

  6. Emperors New Clothes?

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