So, we have reached the Play-Off Final!
The Trust would like to thank the team and Stuart McCall and his management team for all the hard work put into this collective team effort in getting to the final, and giving many thousands of City fans something to cheer about. For those veterans in the side this will be their second successful journey to the Play Offs in successive seasons, and for some this will be their third successive journey to Wembley in five seasons. And to be unbeaten at home in all League games this season just goes to show that we have a team that continues to be ‘history-makers as we progress back up the pyramid.
What made our Play Off Semi-Final tie with Fleetwood special was that the only goal scored over the two legs was scored by non other than Rory McArdle, who has had a history of being there at the right time to score key goals. The matches themselves were scrappily fought out with City dominating most of both games, and we could’ve scored more. But who cares? We’re through!
The votes for the Young Player of the Year Award
We would like to thank you, the members for taking part in voting in the POTY Awards this year. And well done to Josh Cullen who won it! A promising young player abound with talent, he has grown in confidence since been on loan for almost 2 seasons from West Ham. His 58 appearances in a claret and amber shirt tells us that both Parky and McCall value his hard work and team effort. It was certainly a proud moment for me to be able to give the Young Player of the Year Award on stage. My lack of experience in this sort of thing, together with the overwhelming effect of been on stage gave cause for howls of laughter!
At the Player of the Year Awards, Mark Marshall and Stuart McCall to name two amongst others recalled the end Phil Parkinson’s era, and playing under him, to Edin & Stefan investing in the Club and taking on Stuart McCall and his management team, and the positive attitude in the dressing room, the work ethic and great team effort that exists in the team. Mark Marshall was of course the favourite of many supporters groups, sponsors and such like. Meredith, who has been a stalwart in the team, has been my personal favourite. He picked up a PFA player of the year award and an award on the night (I think I remember). Romain Vincalot and Tony McMahon also picked up awards. Once again, I would like to thank our members who took part in voting this year.
Mike Thompson, our former Chair won the Unsung Hero of the year award by the Supporters Board, and Carl Smith, a Supporters Board member was on stage to give it to Mike, who suspected nothing.
Mike joined the Supporters Trust Board in the immediate aftermath of the Club’s financial crisis of 2004, and has been a stalwart member ever since. He has taken on numerous roles for the Supporters Trust, serving as Chair from 2013-2016, and he has been a member of the club’s Supporters Board throughout its existence.
Most recently, he organised the annual collection in 2015 that raised an astonishing total of £8700 for the Burns Unit, and has held extensive discussions with the Football Authorities and the Metropolitan Police over issues raised by last season’s play-off match at Millwall.
Mike has worked tirelessly behind the scenes to represent fans’ interests, and to bring people together, with his trademark forbearance and concern for the individual. He has always thought the best of everyone, and wished everyone the best for themselves. The Supporters Board has made a special exception in his case to honour one of our own as Bradford City’s Unsung Hero of 2017.
Third highest figure ever for the annual Burns Unit collection
The Trust would like to thank all those individuals from the various supporters groups who helped with the bucket collection, in particularly Sally Thackray and Tony Sykes for organising the collection on the last game of the season at home to Wimbledon. We must thank everyone who contributed to the cause in remembering the 56 who, of course perished in that terrible tragedy. The amount raised for the collection was £3,567.08!
#AffordableFootball for all?
I couldn’t help noticing a news item on the website with a headline asking, ‘Do you want to support #AffordableFootball for all?’ and it is about encouraging fans to donate sums of money, large or small, that will contribute to buying season-tickets to fans less financially fortunate to afford one at the £149 price, which Friends Of Bradford City are organising with the backing of the Club. And this follows from the fact that, if we’ve understood it correctly, up to 1,000 City fans have donated their season-tickets back to the Club, who for one reason or another can’t make the games, and over 150 exile City fans across the world have also bought and donated their season-tickets back to the Club. I know that even our City Gent is contributing to purchase and donate a season-ticket as well. I think it is a great human achievement when large groups of people donate to a cause they can identify with, and to support the Club in reaching 20,000 is something City fans do identify with.
There is a sense of collective human solidarity, identifying with the class – the working class after all has always enjoyed following football for generations. Also the Clubs’ local business partner supporters are also involved. This collective contribution is a clear example that without the large collective investment through season-ticket purchases from a working class base there would be no football, which is a genuine reason why football clubs should be owned collectively and democratically by the fans rather than individual business owners with large pockets. It’s the supporters that are really the largest and most genuine shareholders in football, not big business.
What would be interesting to ask the Club is how will they measure or qualify a fan that is less fortunate to get a donated season-ticket?
Flag bearers of bringing affordable season-tickets
The Club however, rightly sees itself as one of the leading flag bearers of bringing affordable season-tickets to the masses and it would be great to see more clubs follow Bradford City’s example. Watching football in a full packed house is better than watching it in a half-empty ground which is what Bantams fans are regularly accustomed to seeing in Leagues One and Two.
Also, whilst it is important to note and agree that from the 1st of March to the end of April, the Clubs’ season ticket offers of £149, £169, and £199 represents good value for money, even at £199, when you look at the competitive prices of other Football Club season-ticket offers in our League and within the EFL as a whole. However, I also recognise that the fact that there is a willingness from supporters to donate to contribute their donations to meet the 20,000 target, and that is an achievement in itself, but, it shouldn’t have had to be that way.
If Bradford City had run the £149 season-ticket offer for a much longer period, offering more ways in which fans could make paying arrangements easier that don’t incur an increase in price through direct debit, and perhaps offer that fans can contribute more if they wanted to, then maybe, the 20,000 target would be reached sooner.
After the Club put out its season-ticket offer statement back at the end of February, we, welcomed the freezing the season-ticket price at £149, articulating the idea of extending the window of time in which fans could maximise to buy time to find the money to invest in that early bird offer.
Fans are the lifeblood of the game and when clubs needs something from us, it is often that our loyalty is exploited in some way or another.
Nationally the FSF has teamed up with Virgin Media to make football more affordable for away fans in the Premiership. Last season following the £Twenty’s Plenty campaign, culminating in the fans walk-out at Anfield over increased season-ticket prices, the Premier League reached an agreement with FSF that match day prices would be no more than £30 for away fans. Recently Virgin Media agreed to refund £10 to every travelling away fan, which is, essentially keeping match day prices for away fans in the Premiership at £20. However, this is a limited period off between April and May.
Regionally the FSF wants the backing of Supporters Trusts to campaign around match day prices for away fans in the EFL by writing to EFL clubs in the region to support the £Twenty’s plenty campaign and reciprocal deals.
If we do get promoted to the Championship the away match day prices will be more expensive than what we have been used to in League One and Two. And we have a number of potentially mouth-watering fixtures. Leeds Utd failed to reach the Championships Play-Offs so we could be playing them and off course, Sheffield Utd. Huddersfield and Wednesday are in the mix for the Play Offs, but none of them may be successful in achieving promotion, and of course there’ll be Barnsley, so there maybe an opportunity on doing some joint work in bringing match day prices down.
The Football Supporters’ Federation and Supporters Direct will host the joint annual Supporters Summit at St George's Park, Burton-Upon-Trent, on 1st and 2nd July 2017 - in partnership with the FA.
Supporters of a wide variety of clubs across the UK converge to discuss the important issues of how the game is run and how they impact on us, the committed real supporters who travel the length and breadth of the land to follow our teams trials and tribulations. But we don't just want to talk about these issues we want to do something about them, and that's the key.
Last year’s Supporters Summit, held in Wembley, included debates on the EFL's Whole Game Solution, the Twenty's Plenty campaign, diversity, away fans and much more.
The full programme of events for the 2017 summit is still being finalised.
Fans For Diversity & Bangla Bantams
Bangla Bantams are having a community day at Valley Parade on Sunday the 21st of May. The day will involve being on the pitch all day coaching and playing fun games with the younger community and 3 exhibition matches. So if you want to come and support the event please come and see what’s happening get to Valley Parade on Sunday 21st of May.
As BCST is affiliated to the FSF, one of our requirements as an affiliated organisation is to consult with you on any national issues it campaigns on. The FSF campaigns on issues when there is a demand for it by fans, and one of the biggest of these campaigns that has had a lot of coverage in the national media is Safe Standing. We will be rolling out a short and easy survey on this for you to complete very shortly.
Also, we know how much Bradford City means to us all as a community and we are committed to consulting you on your general match day experiences from pies and beer to flags and the club shop. We will be putting something together to try out where you can discuss and raise ideas with us online in the near future.
Would you be a Supporters Trust Board member?
The Trust is always on the look out for new board members, so if you are a member of the Trust or not, and you feel that you agree with some of the things in this article, and / or you are familiar with the Supporters Trust movement and you care about the national supporter-based issues as well, and you have something to say, why not get in touch by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Trust would like to thank Charles Hague for the photography at the Player of the Year Awards night.