BRADFORD CITY joint chairman Mark Lawn last night branded as “ridiculous” this weekend’s home game with Tranmere Rovers having to be put back 24 hours due to a planned rally by a far-right political party in the city centre.
West Yorkshire Police requested the game, which was originally scheduled for tomorrow at 3pm, be moved due to needing to deploy resources at an English Defence League protest that is being held at the same time.
The game was initially switched to tonight but then moved again after supporters complained it clashed with England’s crucial World Cup qualifier at home to Montenegro.
City do not believe the move to 3pm on Sunday will unduly affect the attendance with Lawn still hoping for a good turnout to watch Phil Parkinson’s men, who have lost just once all season and sit fourth in the table.
But the Bantams’ joint chairman does object to fans being unduly inconvenienced by the third such event staged by the EDL in Bradford since 2010, the latest of which is estimated will cost around £1.5m to police.
He told the Yorkshire Post: “It is ridiculous that a minority political party can affect what 15,000 law-abiding people can do and when they are allowed to watch their football team.
“A fair proportion of those 15,000 are voters and yet their weekend is changed because of events that are nothing to do with them.
“Why should we move just because a right-wing party want to come into Bradford and air views that are not shared by the vast majority of the public?
“I am not sure if it will affect the attendance or not. Maybe we will get a few floating fans with there being no Championship or Premier League football on. We just don’t know.
“But that is not the point. Our fans have been inconvenienced and that isn’t fair on them.”
Regardless of the unusual timing of the game, City will be hoping to maintain a hugely encouraging start to the season.
After winning promotion via the play-offs last term, Parkinson’s side have established their place among the early pacesetters.
Bradford’s only league defeat came at Port Vale on August 17, since which they have claimed 17 points from a possible 21.
In contrast, Sunday’s opponents Tranmere are enduring a miserable campaign and will travel to Valley Parade sitting bottom of League One.
Joint chairman Lawn said: “We have to be pleased with the start. I personally believe the table doesn’t properly sort itself out until 15 games have been played, but there is no doubt that fourth after 10 games is an excellent effort.
“The key at this stage of a season is making sure you are still there or thereabouts and then keeping it that way until February or March. That is always what Manchester United did under Sir Alex Ferguson and he didn’t do badly, did he?
“Then, once into February or March, that is when a team who puts a run together can push on for success. Last season, we left it later than is usually possible to succeed but we got there in the end.
“This is a big month with games against plenty of good sides who you would expect to be challenging for promotion. We have just beaten Walsall and then have Preston, Crawley and Wolves all before the end of October. That is why I think 15 games will be a good guide for the season.”
International call-ups mean City will take on Tranmere with their central defensive options severely reduced, neither Carl McHugh (Republic of Ireland Under-21s) or Rory McArdle (Northern Ireland) being available.
Matt Taylor is also on loan at Colchester United and unable to be recalled during the first month of the deal. That leaves Luke Oliver, who last month returned after almost a year out with injury, as the most likely to start alongside Andrew Davies at the heart of the defence, though Nathan Doyle is also an option.
Lawn added: “It is a good sign for a squad that we will have options, even though two of our players have been called up. Maybe a couple of years ago that wouldn’t have been the case.
“I realise losing two players from the same position is unfortunate, but I suppose there has to be a cut-off in terms of when a game is postponed.
“The current rules state three players must be missing and that is probably fair enough, even if we have fallen a bit foul of it this time.
“Of course, if Nahki (Wells) had been fit and called up (by Bermuda) then that would have been that in terms of a postponement.
“But there is no point dwelling on what could have been and we will go into the Tranmere game in confident mood thanks to having a good squad with cover in every position.
“I laugh when I see some supporters say that the squad isn’t big enough. I just don’t see how they come to that conclusion.
“Maybe left-back is one position where we don’t have a like-for-like replacement, though Carl McHugh can do well there if James Meredith is out for whatever reason.
“But, as for the rest, there is cover in every position. Bringing in Caleb Folan last week has merely added to that strength and we look in decent shape.”