Stead future key to Parkinson’s Bantams plan

Jon Stead is seen as integral to Phil Parkinson's plans for Bradford next season.
Jon Stead is seen as integral to Phil Parkinson's plans for Bradford next season.
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PHIL PARKINSON believes Bradford City’s squad heading into the summer is in the best shape since he became manager in 2011.

The Bantams have missed out on the League One play-offs following a late dip in results but this season will still be remembered for years to come at Valley Parade thanks to famous Cup triumphs over Chelsea, Sunderland and Leeds United.

Planning for next term is already under way, even though the on-going talks between the club hierarchy and former QPR chairman Gianni Paladini over a possible takeover continue to rumble on.

Twelve players are already tied down for next season, including key figures such as Billy Clarke, James Hanson, Billy Knott, Rory McArdle, James Meredith, Gary Liddle and captain Stephen Darby.

Others whose current deals do not expire until the summer of 2016 include Ben Williams, Alan Sheehan, Filipe Morais, Christopher Routis and Olly McBurnie.

Parkinson also expects Jon Stead to remain once his short-term deal expires in June to leave only Andrew Davies, Mark Yeates and Andy Halliday of City’s regulars to agree new contracts once the season ends.

In that respect, the on-going takeover means all talks are on hold. However, the Bantams chief said: “I feel we have probably got as good a base going into the summer since I came here, certainly in terms of quality.

“I do honestly feel that. We have some good players signed up. And we are ready to discuss the rest in two games time.”

Bradford have taken giant strides since Parkinson first walked into Valley Parade in August, 2011, at a time when the club was already locked in a season-long fight against relegation.

Central to that progress has been astute recruitment and the City chief admits keeping Stead, who has been a revelation since joining from Huddersfield, is key.

“In terms of new contracts,” said Parkinson, “nothing will be done until the takeover situation is resolved.

“Everything has to be on the back burner until then.

“Jon Stead, though, is a little bit different because we had gone quite a way down the line with that one anyway.

“We will be keeping John. We want to keep him. The details of Jon’s contract will be left in terms of signing it. That will have to wait.

“Obviously, there is nothing we can do about that. It has been a bit awkward over the last few months because the talks have been going on in the background and that slightly derails things.

“But last year, we left all the contracts to the summer. And there is only two games of the season left to go.”