Parkinson lands big budget to get City promoted

JULIAN RHODES last night revealed Bradford City manager Phil Parkinson has been handed the club’s biggest playing budget in four years.

The Bantams, following several seasons of cutting back since losing £765,000 in 2008-09 after Stuart McCall was handed substantial resources, have decided to make a concerted push for promotion from League Two.

Expected windfall payments from several of the youngsters that City have sold to Premier League clubs in recent years are behind the unexpected raising of the Valley Parade budget, as is the impending sale of the adjacent office block to Bradford-based charity ‘One in a Million’ for use as a free school.

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Proceeds from the sale of the block – bought by Rhodes, his father, Professor David Rhodes, and fellow joint chairman Mark Lawn a year ago to safeguard the club’s survival by saving an annual rent outlay of £370,000 – will be a further boost to City, who by the end of yesterday’s cut-price season ticket deadline had shifted more than 8,000, including 1,200 or so of the new flexicards that offer discounted admission on a game-by-game basis in 2012-13.

Rhodes told the Yorkshire Post: “We are pushing the boat out again and having a real crack. Myself and Mark sat down recently and worked out that the extra payments we expect to come in meant we could raise the budget available to Phil.

“Our budget next season will be very similar to the one that Stuart had in his second season.

“We have done the cashflows and the plan is that we set off with this budget and, hopefully, do well. If when we get to January, things haven’t gone to plan then we will have to look to generate from within.

“But if we are doing well, I would expect our income to rise significantly.

“The rent saving on the offices, which we expect to sell to the Department of Education in the very near future, helps a lot, too. As is the case with the payments that will be due for some of the youngsters we have sold.

“All the income that comes in will go towards the first team as we want to go up. We have always believed that if we can get out of this division then we can finally get Bradford City moving again.”

Among the youngsters to have been sold by City in recent years are George Green to Everton, Niall Heaton (Liverpool), Luke Hendrie (Manchester United) and Andre Wisdom (Liverpool).

All sorts of incentives were included in the deals that will entitle Bradford to additional payments when the players sign new contracts, receive international recognition or make a certain number of appearances.

So far, Fabian Delph has proved to be the club’s most lucrative sale with the midfielder’s £8m switch to Aston Villa in 2009 from Leeds United, who he joined as a 12-year-old after starting out with City’s juniors, having brought in a seven-figure sum.

Tom Cleverley is another who left the Bantams as a youth and last season the Yorkshire side received a payment for each of the midfielder’s first 10 appearances for Manchester United. A substantial sell-on clause also exists if Cleverley leaves Old Trafford with the Red Devils having also agreed a payment to cover the year-long loan spell the Bradford-born Under-21 international had at Wigan Athletic in 2010-11.

Parkinson has been working hard since the end of the season to bring in the players he feels are capable of ending Bradford’s 12-year decline.

Andrew Davies has already joined on a one-year deal from Stoke City, while Andy Gray, recently released by Barnsley, has been in discussions over a possible switch to West Yorkshire along with Portsmouth winger Kelvin Etuhu.

Aberdeen defender Rory McArdle, a Northern Ireland international, is another the Yorkshire Post understands is wanted by Parkinson following his recent release by the Scottish Premier League side.

On the search for new players, Rhodes said: “Andrew Davies is a signing that I feel shows our intent. He is not a cheap signing, not by any means. But we feel he is worth it and the type of signing that will make others sit up and take note.

“As for further signings, the problem when you are going for the better players is that other clubs are in for them, too, so we have to be patient.

“Phil came to us with a list and we are doing our best to bring them in. We have the basis of a good squad, with James Hanson and Nahki Wells being possibly the best partnership in the division when they played together last season.”