Bradford City v Tranmere Rovers: Stefan Rupp will be judged by his actions after issuing open letter to angry fans of troubled League Two outfit

AMID another forgettable, unsatisfactory season at Bradford City - aside from a bit of fleeting fun around Christmas and a EFL Trophy flirtation with Wembley - Stefan Rupp’s open letter to supporters is one of the few striking things that has happened in truth.

The German, amid growing anger among City followers, felt compelled to give a lengthy eve-of-Easter update on a variety of topics causing grief to many.

Not only to the club’s fanbase, but also the individual responsible for the day-to-day running of the increasingly beleaguered League Two club in the shape of chief executive officer Ryan Sparks.

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Alongside Rupp, Sparks has been the subject of a barrage of criticism of late. The former has been handily insulated away from it all back in Bavaria.

Stefan Rupp (right), owner of Bradford City. Photo by George Wood/Getty Images.Stefan Rupp (right), owner of Bradford City. Photo by George Wood/Getty Images.
Stefan Rupp (right), owner of Bradford City. Photo by George Wood/Getty Images.

His recent visit to Valley Parade for the fixture against Mansfield Town was his first to BD8 in eight months.

Cynics might suggest that the letter is conveniently timed, given the fact that Bradford City Fans Independent Group have organised a protest outside of the directors entrance at Valley Parade ahead of today’s home game with Tranmere Rovers.

Rupp’s words might just draw the sting out of that, although that remains to be seen.

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What is in no doubt is that Rupp will ultimately be judged by actions and not words - having made a number of pledges in his ‘address’.

An apology after another desperately disappointing season at fourth-tier level - next year, City start their sixth campaign in League Two - is at least a start.

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.

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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."

Rupp recently met with Sparks for crunch talks in Munich with City’s drama in danger of lurching into a full-blown crisis.

He confirmed that Sparks addressed concerns over the current playing budget.

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Alongside Wrexham, with a nod to Notts County, City are the biggest name in League Two and certainly the one with the most potential in a fair fight.

But the finances devoted to the playing side of the operation this season have plainly not suggested that. The ones who have taken most of the flak because of that are Sparks and head of recruitment Stephen Gent.

Rupp’s pledge of injecting more funds is at least welcome, if too late to save another season. The proof of the pudding will be in the eating next year.

Rupp continued: "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 break-even 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."

Alongside being seemingly chained to League Two, another millstone around the necks of City continues to be the rental agreement at Valley Parade.

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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.

The amount is currently believed to be around the £500,000 mark, with no buy-back. The lease runs until 2028.

Rupp said: "I am acutely aware our current rental agreement for the University of Bradford Stadium 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."