A Report on BCST Board meeting with Edin Rahic & other representatives of Bradford City

By Bradford City Supporters Trust, Oct 22 2018 08:19PM

On the 16th October 2018 members of the Bradford City Supporters Trust Board met with representatives of Bradford City Football Club - Edin Rahic (Chairman and Co-Owner), Paula Watson (Head of Operations), Michael Shackleton (Commercial Manager), and Ryan Sparks (Media and PR Manager).

We (the Supporters Trust) started out outlining the role of Supporters Trusts with football clubs and the Trust's national remit (via Supporters Direct). We explained that we were representing our members. The Trust put questions from its members to the Club’s representatives.

We began by asking what had kick-started the decline from the Yeovil game last season. This led to a broader discussion about how many "small puzzles turned into a typhoon", to quote Edin. Many small things had built up, which started the decline. It was clear that Edin believes the FA Cup is a key competition for the club financially. He felt the Club had missed a key opportunity against Manchester United, an opportunity to raise revenue and strengthen its position in the transfer market. Despite large offers being made to bring proven players into the Club, this lost revenue may have impacted on the funds available for key targets. It is our understanding this coincided with the opening of the January Transfer Window. Offers were made by rivals for key Bradford City Players, which the club declined to accept. This caused issues with players which had big impacts within the dressing room, affecting moral and contributing to decline in results and loss of form, which the club have not recovered from. This ultimately led to a change of football management.

Following Stuart McCall’s departure, Edin employed a manager based on his record of a high pedigree at our level. This was widely accepted as a good appointment by the majority of Bradford City fans and the wider football community. Between the combined circumstances of bad weather and postponed matches, a tough run of fixtures, and weather related issues with the training ground, the Club never saw the immediate change of fortunes to cement themselves as serious play-off contenders. Also the effects of the adverse and prolonged bad weather during Simon Grayson's management caused a number of issues for training. The Trust Board questioned why Simon Grayson did not extend his stay beyond the end of the season; this was explained as "Simon saw himself as a Championship Manager", and a search for a new manager got underway.

While the appointment of Simon Grayson was considered correct at the time, the owners accept that the appointment of the initial coaching team of Michael Collins, Martin Drury and Greg Abbott did not work out. A continued bad run of form resulted in the owners taking action and finding a replacement - with the season still very much to play for.

The Trust questioned the Club representatives about investment over the summer months, recruitment strategy, and the emphasis on signing young playing talent. During the summer months large investments were put into the infrastructure of the Club, making it able to be more sustainable in the years to come. These included an upgrade to the drainage on the pitch, the ticket system, the customer management software, club shop, maintenance equipment, back office equipment for the club staff, and general much needed stadium maintenance. All of this was to prepare the Club for the future years, and for Championship football. There was also a significant increase in the rent for the ground and a very significant increase of electric bills, as well as a huge increase of water usage (due to better pitch drainage). In addition, Edin spoke of how the playing budget was significantly higher than last season. Despite reduced season-ticket revenue, it is a mark of the commitment to succeeding. Significant investment has also been made within the youth academy setup and performances have been very impressive, with a host of talented youngsters coming through the ranks.

On the field, recruitment centred on up and coming talent and highly regarded prospects. The Club explained that contracts were offered to existing senior players - however these players chose not to accept these contracts and moved on, while some others did not want to be Bradford City players, and some players wished to move for personal reasons.

The Trust's understanding is that the Club wanted to develop players to add value to the squad, with a view to being able to compete financially in the long term with the larger budget clubs, and eventually survive in the Championship. The Trust understands the benefits of buying already developed players for immediate results and also understands the benefits of youth development. This is a fine line to balance and current results would suggest that the Club need more investment in the January Transfer Window of proven players and players with experience at this level.

We therefore questioned whether the Club believed the recruitment strategy was the correct one in the short term. The owners acknowledged the short-term requirement for a balanced squad. However it was emphasised that the current discontent from the stands – which is not helped by the run of results and current league position - is having a detrimental effect on the confidence and form of the existing squad. Edin told the Trust that the next few months are "vital" to Bradford City; it is vital that everyone makes Valley Parade as attractive a prospect as possible, as this will help determine the attractiveness of the Club to potential players ahead of the January Transfer Window.

The Trust feels that any action at this time which would be detrimental to recruitment and to results, and potentially to the clubs League One status, would not be in the interests of the Club or the fans in the short term or long term.

After Simon Grayson’s comments about the training facility when he left the Club in the summer, the Trust questioned what David Hopkin thought of the training ground and facilities. No such concerns have been expressed by David Hopkin. Paula Watson told the Trust that the bad weather in the early part of the year did cause issues for Simon Grayson but this was unavoidable.

The Trust Board concluded by asking Edin about the lessons he had learnt during his tenure. Edin admitted that the business and culture in England was very different from that in Germany. However he expressed his commitment to the Club and to efforts to rectify the current on-pitch situation The Trust picked up on the fact that Edin is in regular dialogue with Julian Rhodes and possibly takes advice.

While Edin expressed commitment to the Club and the importance of ongoing dialogue with supporters groups, he expressed concern that this was being undermined by a minority of individuals who have been xenophobic towards not only him but also his family. The Supporters Trust want Bradford City to be inclusive of everybody and to be a family friendly club. Therefore we condemn this kind of behaviour. Instead we welcome constructive ideas which we can discuss through ongoing and regular dialogue with the Club. We have agreed a further meeting in a month's time to discuss further concerns from fans, who can email their thoughts to us.

We would like to say, that this was a very productive first meeting, and we didn’t expect answers to every question supporters have, and we are sure there are many, however, to ensure that discussions continue, trust is a key element for cementing relations. It is also important to underline the fact that we are an independent organisation, and as we have said before, there will be an opportunity for members and supporters to attend a meeting that we will organise and where we can discuss and debate the way forward.

We hope that our next meeting with the Club will be after a run of positive results, and we ask for all supporters to get fully behind the team between now and January and hopefully be the 12th Man. Every point really could matter this season.

Yours sincerely

Manny Dominguez

BCST Chair

Oct 22 2018 09:04PM by Chris Wright

Nothing there at all i'm afraid. Just another opportunity for Rahic to spin the same old garbage. What about the Luke Hendrie situation? Why did James Mason feel the need to leave? How many accountants have we had? Why is there such a high turnover of staff? Why is his wife employed in a position she has no previous experience in? I could go on. Rahic is a parasite sucking the blood out of our club, and i've never experienced such a toxic atmosphere. The fact that yet again he harps on about 'sticking together', just shows what an egotistical cretin this man is. You, as a supporters trust have failed to get any answers to any concerns of the supporters. Rahic out.

Oct 23 2018 03:07AM by City Bob

Sorry, but if he still thinks that there's just a 'xenophobic minority' stirring discontent then he's very wide of the mark. I'd say that there's now a sizable proportion and probably a majority of those attending home games (and more if those that aren't attending are included) that are against both Rahic personally and his tenure in general.

As representatives of the supporters, it's time that BCST stopped pussy footing around and started to ask some serious questions of Rahic. Such as: 'how much are you and your family paying yourselves on a yearly basis?' Without an answer, people will continue to believe the various figures rumoured on social media.

If you don't start representing just how thoroughly teed off supporters are. Then other people will begin to organise to protest against his regime. It's 'gloves off' time BCST! Or you're going to be seen as an ineffective irrelevance at best and as part of the problem at worst.

Oct 23 2018 07:11AM by D Fell

FFS what a complete waste of time. That is just PR/propaganda exercise on behalf of Rahic. By doing nothing you reward incompetence ignorance arrogance and bullying with blind loyalty.

Oct 23 2018 09:46AM by Philip Bailey

Do you really think this statement answers any of the concerns of the vast majority of supporters? The delay you experienced in even getting to meet with Rahic surely says it all, and you now seem to have taken everything he has said as though you are somehow in awe of the man having finally got to meet him. Did you really challenge him on all the issues the club has faced in he past several months and which have been widely reported by many sensible commentators? Aren't you supposed to represent the supporters views at such a meeting, and surely you know what those views are? You seem to have achieved nothing in the way of any real answers to valid and legitimate concerns.

Oct 23 2018 11:07AM by Hoggy64

I'm at a loss to understand the purpose of the supporters trust if this is the kind of insipid interviewing they do. You clearly have not spoken to actual Bradford fans i.e. those that actually attend matches or have followed City for more years than most marriages last!! otherwise you would have known the depth of despair/anger/frustration/resignation/sadness etc etc we feel and expressed it. Tonight (Coventry match) for the first time in over 45 years of supporting Bradford City I have CHOSEN NOT to attend, no excuses, no other commitments just CHOSEN NOT to and even more telling is my 20yr old son who had the same passion and fervor about City as I did at his age feels he has no connection with the club anymore. Simply put Rahic has destroyed my beloved club, him alone, not the manager, not the staff, not even the current useless bunch of players (and the weather....really....give me a break!!) and most certainly not the loyal long suffering fans who have stuck together through more adversities than fans of any club should have to go through. I am neither xenophobic nor in the minority but until Rahic offers an unreserved meaningful apology and resigns then I fear mine and my son's connection with the club will be lost forever. Sad sad days try telling that to Rahic next time you listen to his propaganda.

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