Bantams set to reap benefits of Arsenal Cup tie

Julian Rhodes
Julian Rhodes
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JULIAN Rhodes last night revealed Bradford City expect to make around £300,000 profit from next month’s Capital One Cup quarter-final with Arsenal after unprecedented demand on the first day of ticket sales.

The League Two club sold more than 6,000 tickets as long queues of supporters snaked around Valley Parade for much of yesterday.

With capacity set at a little over 24,000 for the December 11 tie and Arsenal fans having been allocated the entire Midland Road stand, the Bantams could attract their largest attendance since the club’s stadium was redeveloped in 2001.

Rhodes told the Yorkshire Post: “I would expect us to earn in the region of £300,000 from the Arsenal game through ticket sales and the game being shown live on Sky, which brings in around £125,000 (of that sum).

“For a club like ourselves, that is great news. At the start of the season, we budgeted for a £600,000 deficit in order to push the boat out and give ourselves the best chance of success on the field.

“The flipside of doing that was we would have to make up that entire deficit during the season – either through increased gate receipts by being successful in the Cups and league, the add-ons in terms of fees for the youth players we have sold in the past or, as a last resort, selling players in January.

“Bringing in £300,000 from one game will go a long way towards bridging that gap. In that respect, progress in the FA Cup (tonight against Northampton Town) is also important because it will bring in prize money and at least one more game.

“What I will say is if we can cover the entire deficit by January then whatever the surplus is can, hopefully, be put into improving the squad.”

City’s coffers are being swelled on a game-by-game basis at the moment by one-time Valley Parade junior Andre Wisdom being in the Liverpool first-team, while they have also received payments linked to Tom Cleverley’s move to Manchester United as a junior.

The Arsenal game will bring a further boost with the North West Corner being reopened for the night along with the lower tier of the Bradford End, complete with new seating.

Safety officers are looking into whether Block A of the main stand – the only part of the ground that remains uncovered – can also be used but a decision has yet to be made, hence why the capacity could be capped below the official figure of 25,136.

Just how many fans end up attending next month’s Arsenal game – City’s first appearance in the last eight of the League Cup in a quarter of a century – is a question that continues to vex officials.

Bradford have a little over 9,000 season ticket holders, all of whom are eligible to buy two tickets. However, with it being highly unlikely that every season ticket holder will take up this offer, it is more likely that anything between 12-15,000 tickets will be sold via this avenue.

A second phase of selling will see fans who attend either of this month’s League Two clashes with Plymouth Argyle and Exeter City handed a voucher entitling them to buy one ticket for the Cup quarter-final.

Any remaining tickets will then be placed on general sale on a first come, first served basis – meaning City could be watched by their biggest crowd since the penultimate home game of the 2000-01 Premier League season when 22,057 saw a 2-0 defeat to Liverpool.

The building work to turn the main stand into a two-tier structure had just been completed and with the Bantams being relegated a few weeks later, the increased capacity of Valley Parade has never been tested.

Rhodes said: “I turned up in the morning and there was a huge, long queue. That remained the case pretty much for the entire day. That is very encouraging and, hopefully, we could be looking at our biggest attendance since we were in the Premier League.

“Everyone is really excited as this is a big game for the city, not just the club. To sell more than 6,000 on the first day shows that and it promises to be a special occasion for everyone.”

Rhodes’s wish that Bradford maintain their impressive Cup form of the past 15 months will be put to the test in tonight’s first round replay against Northampton.

A home tie with Brentford awaits the winners in the next round but City’s preparations have been rocked by a sickness bug that continues to dog Phil Parkinson’s squad.

James Hanson struggled with the virus last week but crawled off his sickbed to lead the attack in Saturday’s 2-0 win at Aldershot Town.

Since then, however, several other members of the Bantams squad have fallen victim to the bug and Parkinson ordered all his players to stay away from the training ground yesterday as a precaution.

If City are to earn a second round tie with League One Brentford, they will have to win their first FA Cup replay in 20 years with their last four having resulted in defeat. The most recent saw Millwall go through to the third round at the expense of the Yorkshire club in 2006 with a 1-0 extra time win at The Den after the first game had finished goalless.

Last six games: Bradford City WLDDDW, Northampton Town LLWDDW.

Last time: Bradford City 2 Northampton Town 1; October 22, 2011; League Two.

Referee: M Russell (Hertfordshire).