Bradford City duo axed to ‘protect’ them

Chief executive Ryan Sparks says he believes Mark Trueman and Conor Sellars can manage Bradford City again, but he relieved them of that duty to “protect” them from a possible bad start to next season.

Conor Sellars and Mark Trueman. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

The pair were in temporary charge for 69 days and given the post full-time for 78 before being sacked, but Sparks wants both to remain at Valley Parade.

“I want to protect those guys,” he said. “I didn’t want them to struggle with the pressure next season and I’d like them to have chance to build to do it long-term.

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“The pair of them are excellent coaches and have got a lot more in their locker than coaching. They’re safe within the business and from a livelihood perspective it doesn’t affect them, they’ve had the experience and they’ve got the chance to build foundations.

“This is not a sacking as such, just a downgrading of their roles.”

The Bantams will not offer new contracts to Connor Wood, Anthony O’Connor, Lee Novak, Clayton Donaldson, Billy Clarke, Harry Pritchard, Zeli Ismael, Connor Shanks and Will Huffer. Last season Wood and O’Connor missed just one League Two, FA Cup or League Cup game between them when the latter was suspended.

“Next season we’d like to get out of this division or certainly compete at the top for longer and we’ve been unable to do it with this squad,” said Sparks. “It would be wrong of me to just sit back.

“I still believe they (Trueman and Sellars) have a lot of characteristics to be Bradford City managers but we are in a results business and the last thing I thought they deserved was a potentially difficult start to next season, which they haven’t experienced, because of players gelling and all kinds of reasons and they find themselves out of the club and us looking for a new manager.

“If things hadn’t gone well and we’d recruited a squad more centred towards Mark and Conor, someone would come in looking for mass changes in January and there are potentially real problems the following summer.”

Nine players joined and six left on Trueman and Sellars’s watch in January.

“The players were signed to the DNA we’re trying to create,” responded Sparks. “Lee Turnbull’s job is to recruit to a manager’s needs but he always adds his knowledge and experience.”

Sparks hopes for a new manager “in the not-too distant future.”

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