Bradford City in good position to weather financial storm

THE spectre of grave financial problems, redundancies and potentially even worse is stalking lower-division clubs amid the coronavirus crisis.

WAITING GAME: Bradford City's Valley Parade stadium. Picture: Tony Johnson

Bradford City are no different, but director of communications Ryan Sparks has moved to alleviate fears with the Bantams better placed than most to weather the current storms.

A release of £50m ‘emergency fund’ from the EFL to its members as a short-term relief package will help out with cash-flows, particularly for League One and League Two clubs and has been viewed as a welcome gesture.

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Bradford City manager Stuart McCall. 7th May 2017. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Award payments will be made immediately to clubs with the rest of the money offered by the governing body to its members being available as interest-free loans.

With much reduced TV cash sums in comparison to their Championship counterparts, match-day income is a key revenue stream for clubs in the bottom two tiers – although for the Bantams, the blow is likely to be softened by the fact they have 13,700 season-ticket holders.

But while income on a match day is not necessarily high, it is still significant.

Sparks said: “From our point of view, I wouldn’t say we are in a position of any strife.

Bradford City's director of communications, Ryan Sparks. Picture submitted.

“We are not got going to make any redundancies. We do not have a wealth of staff, but we do work within our means. As things stand, we are pretty committed to not doing that (redundancies).

“You look at your cash flows and see where you are in general. (But) Obviously, no-one anticipated having no gate receipts and you need match-day revenue and without it, it slows things down.

“For some clubs, it means very little difference, for those who have significant benefactors pouring money in. But for other clubs, it could be catastrophic and that is why the EFL rescue plan was so important.

“It is a significant amount that we are without. If we can find a way through it, we will. If not, we have got the support of the EFL. Either way, we want to safeguard the future of the club.”

The issue of players contracts is now in increased focus, with world governing body FIFA having established a working group to look at temporary amendments and dispensations, with standard deals expiring on June 30.

At present, it is understood no one is looking beyond that date to complete the season but clearly the later the season finishes, the greater the need to make adjustments to the 2020-21 season in order for that to be completed before the rescheduled Euro 2020 tournament.

Specifically on the contracts situation, Sparks commented: “That is the next step where we could do with a little bit of guidance from the governing body on how that could work if we go past June 30.

“It is the next area of uncharted territory that the EFL and FA need to look at on the clubs’ behalf.”

Bradford’s playing squad are likely to continue fitness work from home next week – away from the club’s Woodhouse Grove training base – having been issued with GPS monitors and training programmes, while keeping in regular contact with club staff.