Paladini’s deadline expires today. Several bidders want to take over our club. Interested in making a bid? Take a lead from this inescapable mob of politicians and show us your manifesto then…
The election is getting a bit much isn’t it? No matter which direction you turn, a politician is lying in wait, imploring you to vote for them. ‘Trust us!’ they plead with a fake grin. ‘The other lot are to blame for everything, only we can fix it’ they boldly proclaim.
I half expect Ed Miliband to stride out of my fridge when I open it in the morning, pass me some milk, and then lecture me about a fairer Britain as I try to gulp down my coffee. I would not be at all surprised to find David Cameron and George Osborne offering me a large fluffy towel as I step out of the shower, whilst lauding the merits of a Tory government. Driving to work, I wouldn’t flinch if Nick Clegg popped up in my rear view mirror from the backseat to tell me about some jazzy new policy about helping families.
The election is everywhere. The never-ending election babble has got me thinking about manifestos and pledges. Given the context of a new ‘party’ in the corridors of power at Bradford City, with ‘rival bidders’ aside from Gianni Paladini lining up to take control, what kind of manifesto should we be looking for from these people?
Well, here’s a draft – using areas taken from real political manifestos - to help get them started, should they want to lay their hands on our club.
A LONG-TERM PLAN FOR BRADFORD CITY
As someone with a lifelong stake in the club, we understand that you need a commitment from us to put your club on a long-term track for success and stability. This manifesto, our ‘Long-term plan for Bradford City’, does that. It isn’t political spin. We won’t go back on our word. You can boot us out if we do.
Your club has a special history. A unique history. Everyone associated with your club is incredibly proud of it, and its soul is precious. We recognise that. Our intention is not to ignore or forget that, it is to build on that. To cherish that. We want your club to become our club, with you and us in it together, but we recognise that these things take time. We’re happy to wait for your trust, because we’re in this for the long-run too.
The club is going places thanks to the manager and current ownership. It is the envy of many. We are not here to put all that at risk or to cast aside the hard work that has been poured into getting the club where it is today. This manifesto is our plan of action to take what is already happening, build on it, and take this amazing club forward.
We promise to keep the current manager, Phil Parkinson, and will do nothing to step in the way of his vision for the club as long as it is achieving progress. It is our role to support the manager by providing financial, commercial and operational clout. We know how hard it is find ‘the special one’ and right now, the club has that in Phil Parkinson and we treasure that. Managerial merry go-rounds are something we detest.
Team matters are exactly that, team matters. Responsibility for the selection and performance of the team falls to Phil Parkinson and his coaching staff alone. We will do everything we can to support them in being as successful at that as is humanly possible. We know where our remit ends.
As owners of the club, we have a responsibility to protect its reputation and its image. That means no interference where it is not needed, no off-the-record briefings to friends in the press, no messing about, no ridiculous stunts, absolutely no name-changes. If things go wrong we’ll get involved, but only if things go wrong. This club is something that the city of Bradford and the fans are quite rightly proud of, and we are here to keep it that way. The integrity of the club is critical. We are custodians of that and we are aware of our responsibility.
The phrase ‘Northern Powerhouse’ is in favour with a few politicians at the moment. We want to build one here, but it is a long-term ambition.
We recognise what six weeks of madness did to the club previously, and we are not here to artificially inflate the club with Fool’s Gold. We will make the necessary funds available in consultation with the manager to support the club’s progress, and our first ambition is promotion to the Championship. This is our most immediate goal and we will reassess from there. This is Bradford City, not Chelsea or Manchester City, and we don’t want to pump the club up on cash like some obscene steroid-fuelled bodybuilder that is about to go ‘POP!’ Ambitious? Yes. Reckless? No.
We will buy the ground from the Gordon Gibb Pension Fund so that the club is not wasting money on rent anymore. The ground will belong to Bradford City Football Club once again. The club will not be a tenant that can be evicted at the whim of someone.
We will invest in a new pitch, and on better training facilities – thereby giving our players every possible advantage. The investment we put in is our money and we won’t be asking for it back. We hope to see a return in time, but only once we build long-term success and a profitable business model.
The manager has developed a fabulous ethic at the club. The players are not commuting several hours every day to report for training. You cannot play to your best ability if you’re slogging up and down the M1, or pining for your family.
The current squad of players have been brought in not only for their talent, but also for their attitude and awareness of what the club means to the supporters. We totally understand the importance of that, and we will not tolerate anyone who disrupts this ethic. That applies to players irrelevant of nationality. It is an honour to support the club. We want players who are honoured to play for it too.
We will invest in youth. No longer should local players escape at a young age to the clutches of Premiership teams. Good things are happening at the academy and we pledge to build on this through investment, better facilities, improved local support, and stronger links.
We recognise that players such as Stuart McCall, Dean Richards and Des Hamilton mean the world to the supporters – and we’ll do everything we can to nurture similar local talent so that you and your children can wear the names of local, home grown heroes on your backs in the future.
Attracting more young fans from the community is a priority. We want to see more children in Bradford proudly wearing claret and amber, not Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea shirts. Success on the pitch, more and more community engagement, and our approach to marketing the club will underpin this.
We assure you, we absolutely assure you, Bradford City will always play their football at Valley Parade. We are not going anywhere, nor are we renaming the ground. This is the home of Bradford City. Full stop.
We will invest in the ground, but we will not expand it unless there is demand. The Ricoh Arena and its vast swathes of empty seats should be an example to everyone. The special atmosphere at Valley Parade is something to nurture, not nullify. That atmosphere – along with league position – will be a key barometer of how we are faring as owners.
We will keep season ticket prices affordable and we will continue to demonstrate leadership in offering deals and packages, such as the flexi-card. When big games arise, we will manage ticket allocations in a fair manner so that season ticket holders do not miss out. Fans come first. Bradford City is a family club. An accessible family club. We will keep it that way.
We will invest in the facilities at Valley Parade. There will be better food and drink. The local pubs around North Parade are a great place to learn from, and we’ll look to bring in craft beers if possible!
The current scoreboard will stay because it’s an endearing old thing, but we’ll also build new scoreboards – nothing too flashy though, nobody likes a show off. The tannoy system will be replaced so that you can actually hear what is being said.
Comment and criticism on what we do is welcome. We will listen and when we believe it is valid, we will respond. However, be prepared to be challenged if we do not think your ideas are in the best interests of the club. Two-way dialogue is important.
Finally, to the current owners – thank you. The club owes you an enormous debt of gratitude and your counsel will always be appreciated. You know this club and care about it as much as anyone, and we will never forget that. Our door is open.
One final thing – the stripes are staying. We were a bit disturbed by the weird chequered pattern. We don’t need new kits every season either – they cost you a fortune.
We hope you like what we propose. If you do, we can’t wait to get started. Thank you.
I think I’d vote for that. Any more thoughts are welcome below. And if you find a politician in your bathroom – call the police, and don’t vote for them.