City’s chief executive officer, Ryan Sparks, has moved to update supporters on a number of club matters ahead of the Bantams’ return to training next week.
Close to 8,500 ‘Take Me Home’ season tickets have been sold at present, with the Utilita Energy Stadium ticket office open until the later time of 5.00PM TODAY (Saturday June 26).
Sparks writes: “First and foremost, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the 8,419 supporters who have already secured their ‘Take Me Home’ 2021/22 season ticket.
“With two weeks of the campaign remaining, we are on course to comfortably surpass the 10,000 mark and are optimistic at the prospect of running our 2019/20 season tally of 13,614 very close.
“Given where we are just now, and where we have been over the past 18 months, it is truly inspirational to be carrying such support into the coming campaign.
“A lot has changed over the past six months at Valley Parade, hopefully for the better, and the ‘Take Me Home’ campaign has represented that, and so much more. We have introduced modernised age categories, increased prices following consultation with close to 6,000 existing season-ticket holders and launched an innovative direct-debit scheme aimed at transforming annual membership in the long term.
“The most encouraging statistic to date reveals we have welcomed 1,422 new season-ticket holders. These are supporters who did not hold a season ticket during the 2019/20 season, making the closing stages of the ‘Take Me Home’ campaign all the more exciting.
“At present, more than 20% of supporters have taken up our direct-debit option - spreading the price of a season ticket across 12 months for no extra cost and without administration fees. This is beginning to allow us to change the way in which we operate.
“Over the coming years, we hope even more of you will find it convenient to leave behind the annual purchase and opt for what some may describe as a subscription service, similar to that offered by television or music-streaming platforms.
“This method allows for greater sustainability and improved flexibility around ticketing, while we enhance entry system operations at the Utilita Energy Stadium. From a financial control perspective, it has the potential to dramatically alter our usual cashflow forecasts for the better.
“We took the decision to remove the FLEXICARD option ahead of the coming season - in line with changes to our pricing structure and the introduction of new age categories. I am pleased to say that, of the 1,671 FLEXICARD holders from the 2019/20 season, 755 have already renewed with a full season ticket. This is made all the more encouraging by the fact many of these supporters have taken up our direct-debit plan.
“We are anticipating another busy weekend of sales and ticket-office opening hours are now being extended as we arrive at the ‘Take Me Home’ campaign’s eagerly-anticipated climax. This weekend is already looking like a busy one, and the ticket office at the Utilita Energy stadium will remain open for a further five hours today, until 5.00pm.
“On top of this, over 650 supporters have joined the all-new 1903 Club, with all proceeds from these memberships being directed straight into Derek Adams’ playing budget as the transfer window progresses.
“In the coming weeks, we intend to confirm our matchday admission prices and place on sale Away Priority memberships - alongside the launch of our promised loyalty scheme which will reward, from the 2022/23 season onwards, supporters who really do go the extra mile to support our club.
“Moreover, the beginning of next month will see the launch of our 2021/22 home kit. As we have previously touched on, this will be something unique and rather special. It will retell a famous story, one we hope will inspire our aim of promotion next season.
“Meanwhile, it was absolutely fantastic to welcome over 300 supporters, albeit socially distanced and with restrictions still in place, back to Valley Parade on Tuesday evening.
“I hope everyone who attended enjoyed the event. From our point of view, it was brilliant to see so many familiar faces back inside the four walls after so long. The mood was very positive and it was great to be able to give supporters and partners an insight into some of the alterations made to our home, while allowing us to test many new systems recently installed.
“I know Derek Adams was hugely impressed by the level of support and the feeling of togetherness. I am sure he and the players will harness it as they prepare to start pre-season training on Monday.
“As was discussed in the hour prior to England’s victory over Czech Republic, there is a huge amount of work going on throughout the business and our recruitment drive is very much ongoing. All being well, there will be something to ‘sing’ about in terms of our latest addition before the end of the coming week - and we might even say ‘hello’ to a returning familiar face.
“On Tuesday, I was asked about the spending of funds to enhance the performance department and our facilities, and whether or not decisions being taken could put the club’s future at risk.
“While investments have been made, and we view them very much in that way, these have been made as a result of the backing of our loyal supporter base and commercial partners. We have invested in Derek Adams and an expanded backroom, in addition to our scouting and recruitment setup.
“Likewise, we have made much-needed and overdue improvements to Valley Parade in a bid to improve your overall experience, but none of the decisions taken will harm our football club. If anything, it is quite the opposite. We will only ever spend what has been budgeted for.
“Over the course of the past six months, we have streamlined areas of the business and reviewed and improved underperforming departments. Our commercial portfolio continues to develop, and we expect to reach the £1million target we have set.
“We have budgeted sales of circa 11,000 season tickets, a figure I believe we can surpass, and we have set a competitive and balanced playing budget accordingly.
“Strong and developing partnerships with JCT600, Mitton Group, blindsbypost, Yorkshire Payments, RMA Systems, Amico IT Services, Hurtley Plumbing and Heating, Alderdale Seating, Molson Coors, Tiffin Stadium Catering, The Yorkshire Catering Company, Bradford Lifts, Leading Edge Signage and Graphics, Waltons and Company, Sondad, MSR Joinery, Parrots and Elecktec, to name but a few, have enabled us to launch our vast stadium-improvement plan. Thanks must also go to our fantastic stadium maintenance team, who have worked tirelessly on a range of projects to help bring our vision to life.
“As you will have now noticed, we have begun replacing areas of worn-out seating, our dugouts are now something to be proud of, and our bar and kiosk areas are entirely different. Next month will see us begin taking on the vast challenge of refurbishing toilet facilities across the stadium.
“Given the fact we are committed to operating the football club in a sustainable way - without a magic money tree - these projects will take some time to complete, so please bear with us. Not a single one of them, however, will be felt in terms of the bottom line.
“Closing on the subject of finance, next week our accounts for the 2019/20 season will be filed at Companies House and, for the first time in a long time, a detailed analysis of them will be provided via the club’s official website.
“For those not familiar with accounting, balance sheets and the like, I hope this will provide insight on a level many of you have desired for some time. This information has been compiled by our company secretary and accountant, Alan Biggin, who has served Bradford City AFC for more than three decades. From next year, it is our intention to publish full management accounts.
“As with all of our staff, I encourage our people to lead their areas, be proud of what they individually bring to the table - while serving our organisation - and deeply consider the impact they can have in terms of aiding our on-field ambitions. It will therefore be refreshing for Alan to do so in his assessment of the club’s financial results from the season which was so suddenly curtailed prior to the pandemic.
“Transparency and integrity are crucial elements of our strategy going forward, and everyone involved will continue to approach every challenge we face with energy, desire and a clear ambition to be the very best we can be.
“Thank you, once more, for supporting our ambition and buying into the Bradford City AFC we are proud to be building, as we approach the start of the new season.
“With the fixture list now in hand, the excitement, anticipation and nerves can begin. While our homecoming will have to wait until August 14, I am sure I speak for all of us in hoping it is a day to remember. It will be the day we return to the place we belong. I, for one, cannot wait.
“‘Take Me Home’”