McCall to battle on as Bradford City forced to make cuts

STUART McCALL has taken a voluntary pay cut to stay on as Bradford City manager.

The Bantams' chief brought several weeks of uncertainty to an end yesterday by opting not to follow through on his earlier threat to quit following the club's failure to win promotion from League Two.

McCall decided leaving was not an option after digesting the substantially reduced playing budget set by joint chairmen Mark Lawn and Julian Rhodes for next season.

He now faces a hectic summer with 18 of his squad out of contract and Bradford needing to move on several of their highest earners.

The City manager said: "It has been a tough couple of weeks. On the Monday after the Dagenham game, I was 99 per cent certain I would go only for the wave of support (from the fans) to make me review the situation.

"Then I sat down with Mark and Julian to be told what the cuts would be for next season and it made me realise that the last thing I could do was walk away. I did not want to be seen to be deserting a sinking ship.

"That was probably my main reason for staying. The easiest decision would have been to quit but I want to give it another go."

Speaking to McCall yesterday, it was clear he had spent many hours agonising over what was best for the club he served with such distinction during two spells as a player.

The fortunes of his beloved City have been uppermost in his mind and there is no doubt his decision to stay means the club can enjoy some much-needed stability.

He is, however, the first to admit that tough decisions lie ahead in the wake of this season's annual wage bill of 1.9m (a figure that includes all staff costs, transfer fees and

NI contributions) having to be drastically reduced.

Trying to move on high earners such as Graeme Lee, Michael Boulding and Paul McLaren is likely to be a priority in the coming weeks with the Bantams' manager revealing that four members of the current squad would, if they stayed to the end of their current contracts, account for half of next season's total wages bill.

McCall said: "In the current (financial) climate, you have to cut your cloth accordingly and not going up or reaching Wembley has cost this club a lot of money.

"I know some agents and some players look at our crowds and think it is a rich club, but those who are in and around the club know the truth. The bottom line is we are a Fourth Division club that has to live within its means.

"I will be taking a voluntary pay cut and some of the staff might have to do the same. It is horrible to have to tell people that but it will have to be done in the next couple of days.

"Even the lads that we want to stay will be getting a reduced offer."

McCall sat down with eight players yesterday afternoon when it is understood he explained the club's situation to those who are under contract beyond this summer.

Asked about his chances of persuading the high-earners to move on, the City manager replied: "Contracts are contracts, so we will have to wait and see. But I will say now that it will be tough if we can't move a few of those players out in the summer.

"Some of them might have something already sorted out, I don't know. If I can get some moved on, it might give us a fighting chance.

"It will make it an even playing field if we can get rid of some of the boys who take up so much of the wage bill.

"I think four of them will, if they stay, account for half the budget. That is no fault of theirs, it is how things have worked out."

As for the prospect of building a squad capable of challenging for promotion next season, McCall added: "I am ready for that. I am looking forward to getting away (on holiday) and I know when I get back I will be raring to go."