Bradford City owner Stefan Rupp issues an apology to supporters and makes a pledge on 'further' transfer funds plus Valley Parade rental agreement

UNDER-FIRE Bradford City owner Stefan Rupp has reiterated his commitment to the club, while apologising to supporters for his 'quiet' presence at the troubled League Two outfit over the past six months.

The disconnect between sections of City’s fanbase and the club hierarchy is growing with Bradford City Fans Independent Group having organised a protest that will take place outside of the directors entrance at Valley Parade ahead of Good Friday’s home game with Tranmere Rovers.

Fans directed their anger towards Rupp and chief executive officer Ryan Sparks during last weekend’s dismal loss at Harrogate Town with a drama at the club in danger of descending into a crisis.

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In an open letter to fans, Rupp said that he has met with Sparks for crunch talks in Munich regarding the current state of affairs at the club amid an acknowledgement that the 2023-24 season has 'not been good enough'.

Valley Parade., home of Bradford City. Picture Tony Johnson.Valley Parade., home of Bradford City. Picture Tony Johnson.
Valley Parade., home of Bradford City. Picture Tony Johnson.

Rupp confirmed that Sparks addressed concerns over the current playing budget at the club, with the City owner having pledged to inject more funds to enable the West Yorkshire outfit to have 'a closer fight with teams at the top end of the table next season'.

Rupp said: "This season has not been good enough. There is not one single person connected to this club, including myself, who feels differently.

"I accept criticism that has come in my direction, and that is very much my responsibility. I am determined to not let people down.

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"I recognise that over the past six months in particular, I have not been present enough and have been too quiet. For that, I apologise.

"My intention going forward is to be more visible, and I will communicate more regularly with you to ensure you are kept updated on plans for the club’s future.

"I have been made aware of the various topics that matter the most to you, and I intend to cover them more openly, regularly and clearly. Although, as you can appreciate, some subjects are confidential, and must be kept private for obvious reasons.

"Ryan expressed his concerns around our budget and the relative budgets of other clubs that are likely to be on the table in League Two next season, including those of teams being relegated from League One, and being promoted from the National League.

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"We began the summer ahead of this season with a competitive budget, based on the current model, which we hoped could deliver play-off football. However, as the better-resourced clubs continued to spend, it is clear our budget became less competitive.

"I pledge my support to ensure we are now able to compete in the transfer market, giving us a greater chance of having a closer fight with teams at the top end of the table next season.

"In the past, this has not always been the case. I gave Ryan clear direction to run our club as close to breakeven as possible, however I recognise this can have its limitations, and we must, to some degree, move away from an approach where our primary objective is sustainability, in order to achieve our goals, without placing financial strain on the business.

"When needed, I have always financially supported the club, though I accept this support will need to go further, and Ryan and I are on the same page with regards to future investment required.”

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The City supremo also revealed that he is 'considering all options' to bring about a favourable outcome for the club regarding the rental agreement at Valley Parade.

City pay a significant six-figure fee per year to the family pension fund of former chairman Gordon Gibb, who bought the stadium for around £2.5m in 2003 at the height of the financial troubles that followed a two-year stay in the Premier League.

Rupp continued: “I am acutely aware our current rental agreement for the University of Bradford Stadium, Valley Parade, is not far from coming to an end.

"I am considering all of our options to ensure the most favourable outcome for the club in the long term, to safeguard its finances, even if that comes at a cost to me. This is how I see matters for the club as a whole.”

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On his commitment to the club, he continued: "There are often questions tabled to me and Ryan on my desire to own Bradford City in the long term, and it is important I clear this up for everyone concerned.

"I, like most owners in the EFL, would and will continue to consider offers from potential buyers who could take Bradford City further than I can, though I would never allow it to fall into the hands of someone who would harm it.

"With that said, while I own the club, I want to make my commitment clear, that alongside Ryan, Graham (Alexander) and our staff, we intend to drive it forward, and bring genuine hope and excitement back to Valley Parade. This is my stance and it will not change.”

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