Exclusive: Buoyant Bradford eye replay victory to clear debt

JULIAN RHODES last night revealed that Bradford City safely negotiating next week’s replay against Millwall to seal a fourth round trip to Chelsea would wipe out a £1m-plus deficit for the season despite a recent increase in the wage bill.

RETURN: Striker Jon Stead is expected back at Bradford City from Huddersfield Town. Picture: camerasport

As revealed in The Yorkshire Post earlier this season, the Bantams board drew up a budget that, before factoring in transfer income or any Cup runs, would leave the club facing a seven-figure loss.

It is a policy the club has adopted for several years, the challenge each term being to then wipe out that planned deficit over the course of the financial year. Last term, the £1.25m sale of Nahki Wells to Huddersfield did the trick, while in 2012-13 it was two trips to Wembley.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

This time around, the League One club banked between £220,000 and £250,000 from beating Leeds United live on Sky in the Capital One Cup and another £125,000 from November’s FA Cup first round win at Halifax Town.

Several league games being selected for live broadcast have also proved a boost to the club’s coffers, as has a clause inserted in the Wells deal that is based on appearances and goals scored by Huddersfield’s top scorer.

Those additional funds together with a loan fee Bradford received when former junior Tom Cleverley joined Aston Villa from Manchester United last summer have, joint chairman Rhodes estimates, left the club needing to find around £450,000 to wipe out a deficit that includes provision for Jon Stead and Ben Williams joining Filipe Morais in signing on a permanent basis.

Speaking exclusively to The Yorkshire Post, joint-chairman Rhodes said: “Getting to the fourth round is a big thing for any club but the draw means we now have a larger than usual prize to play for.

“If we can get past Millwall to face Chelsea, I would imagine the deficit we budgeted for – and planned to chip away at all season – would be pretty much swallowed up.

“The prize money for getting through to the third round is £67,000. So, that amount together with what I would expect to be receipts of around £350,000, or maybe a little bit more – I’d pretty much expect any deficit to be wiped out. That would mean we didn’t have to explore other avenues.”

These “other avenues” include possibly selling a member of the first team. However, as a fine recent run has powered City into the play-off places, the Valley Parade board are more focused on strengthening during the January transfer window rather than letting anyone go.

That wish to back Bantams manager Phil Parkinson is why the playing budget has recently been increased by a two-and-a-half-year deal that was handed to Morais earlier this week and Bradford wanting to re-sign Stead, who returned to parent club Huddersfield Town on Monday after a successful loan spell.

Goalkeeper Williams, who recently signed a one-month contract extension, could also be staying long-term.

Rhodes said: “As we always do at Bradford City, we adopt a flexible approach and review things as the season goes along. We have been on a good run lately and that is why we recently increased the playing budget to allow the manager to maintain the strength of the squad.

“Filipe has signed for two-and-a-half years, while we also hope to sort out deals for Jon Stead and Ben Williams. These are all signings that we didn’t budget for at the start of the season. But we are in a position where we want to push on.

“This will take us up to a wage bill that will be very close to what we paid last season, which is ironic considering the flak we have taken as a board for slashing the wage bill this season.”

One impending financial headache is the possible return of Aaron Mclean, whose loan spell at Peterborough United is due to expire on January 28.

It is understood City, who pay the squad a bonus every week that the club is in the top six, have been paying 70 per cent of the striker’s wages while at London Road.

As Mclean is the highest earner at the club, even a 30 per cent saving is substantial but that could soon come to an end with sources in Peterborough indicating that no talks over a possible extension have taken place.

That potential extra financial liability aside, however, there is an air of positivity at Valley Parade that Rhodes wants to tap into against Millwall.

The Bradford joint-chairman said: “Things are positive, especially in terms of our form lately. But, financially, a lot does rest on one game.

“I can’t stress enough just how important it is that we get past Millwall and that is why we would love to have a bumper crowd next week. The fans make such a big difference and they could help us get over the line in the replay.”