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Club News


28 March 2024

Club News


28 March 2024

Chairman Stefan Rupp has written an open letter to Bradford City supporters.

Dear supporters,

This season has not been good enough. There is not one single person connected to this club, including myself, who feels differently.

The last two weeks have been hugely disappointing. We have allowed our season to fall away - only weeks after being minutes from Wembley, losing our second semi-final fixture in nine months. This was hard to take for all of us.

Last week, Ryan Sparks requested to meet me in Germany, to address a number of topics concerning him, both in the short and long term. Ryan flew to Munich yesterday (Wednesday), and we openly discussed where we find ourselves now, how we got here, and how we do not wish to find ourselves in this position again.

Ryan expressed his concerns around our budget and the relative budgets of other clubs that are likely to be on the table in League Two next season, including those of teams being relegated from League One, and being promoted from the National League. We began the summer ahead of this season with a competitive budget, based on the current model, which we hoped could deliver play-off football. However, as the better-resourced clubs continued to spend, it is clear our budget became less competitive.

I pledge my support to ensure we are now able to compete in the transfer market, giving us a greater chance of having a closer fight with teams at the top end of the table next season. In the past, this has not always been the case. I gave Ryan clear direction to run our club as close to breakeven as possible, however I recognise this can have its limitations, and we must, to some degree, move away from an approach where our primary objective is sustainability, in order to achieve our goals, without placing financial strain on the business. When needed, I have always financially supported the club, though I accept this support will need to go further, and Ryan and I are on the same page with regards to future investment required.

Graham Alexander inherited a team not well placed in the division, with just over one third of the season played, and has worked tirelessly - along with the players and his staff - in an attempt to deliver a points-per-game ratio needed to get the team into the play-offs, from where we were. As we have seen at times, we have been able to string together some impressive results, but consistency has been an issue, and we have not been good enough. We have also suffered significant injuries to hugely influential players at bad times throughout our campaign.

I recognise that over the past six months in particular, I have not been present enough and have been too quiet. For that, I apologise. My intention going forward is to be more visible, and I will communicate more regularly with you to ensure you are kept updated on plans for the club’s future. I have been made aware of the various topics that matter the most to you, and I intend to cover them more openly, regularly and clearly. Although, as you can appreciate, some subjects are confidential, and must be kept private for obvious reasons.

I am acutely aware our current rental agreement for the University of Bradford Stadium, Valley Parade, is not far from coming to an end. I am considering all of our options to ensure the most favourable outcome for the club in the long term, to safeguard its finances, even if that comes at a cost to me. This is how I see matters for the club as a whole.

I want you to feel and experience less disappointment and fewer opportunities passed up to make finals and win promotion. Some of these moments have perhaps been particularly demoralising for our hugely talented staff, who work extremely hard behind the scenes to ensure we can operate as efficiently and sustainably as possible.

I understand the expectation placed upon this club, and I am responsible for starting to deliver on that. This club has spent far too many years in League Two, both in recent times and prior to my involvement, and we are desperate to change that statistic and move back towards where we want to be.

There are often questions tabled to me and Ryan on my desire to own Bradford City in the long term, and it is important I clear this up for everyone concerned. I, like most owners in the EFL, would and will continue to consider offers from potential buyers who could take Bradford City further than I can, though I would never allow it to fall into the hands of someone who would harm it.

With that said, while I own the club, I want to make my commitment clear, that alongside Ryan, Graham and our staff, we intend to drive it forward, and bring genuine hope and excitement back to Valley Parade. This is my stance and it will not change.

Part of my discussion with Ryan yesterday concerned the football department, and Ryan expressed a desire to add to that operation and assist our existing staff to achieve better outcomes. Ryan will be able to share more details on this matter before the season ends.

You are passionate about your club, and that is important. You have the right to ask questions, to air concerns and frustrations, and to know how I see things. I would not want us to operate any other way. Everyone being on the same page, working towards the same common goals and having each other’s backs will make us stronger.

I accept criticism that has come in my direction, and that is very much my responsibility. I am determined to not let people down. I have been doing a lot of thinking since my last visit to Bradford, in the defeat at home to Mansfield Town, which was a difficult afternoon, and very hard to watch. Results since then have done very little to improve the mood.

I, along with yourselves, certainly after our victory at Accrington Stanley, believed we had a real opportunity to make a push for the play-offs. That has since passed us by. It leaves a feeling none of us want to experience in the future, and I am fully motivated to ensure we have better days ahead.

As we showed last season, when results were better on the field, we can achieve great things when we are united and together. Although last season ended in disappointment, in the weeks leading up to our defeat at Carlisle, there were some great moments, with incredible scenes at Valley Parade, and record-breaking crowds in both the league and the play-offs. I want more of those times and memories for all of us, and it has been made clear to me what I must do to assist in that.

I understand your frustrations and concerns, and share the pain you feel when things do not go our way. I hope tomorrow, you can pull together and get behind the team as you do like supporters of no other club can, and I hope the players can begin to wash away some of the feelings that have built up over the past few weeks, and deliver a performance on the pitch which they are more than capable of.

Hopefully, we can pick up some positive results as we move towards the end of the season, the summer, and the 2024/25 campaign, which I can assure you we will all give everything towards, to ensure it ends how a Bradford City season can and should.

Your chairman, Stefan.

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