Why Bradford City Should Stay At Valley Parade

Ian

Ian began writing Twohundredpercent in May 2006. He lives in Brighton. He has also written for, amongst others, Pitch Invasion, FC Business Magazine, The Score, When Saturday Comes, Stand Against Modern Football and The Football Supporter. Ian was the first winner of the Socrates Award For Not Being Dead Yet at the 2010 NOPA awards for football bloggers.

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3 Responses

  1. Andrew Gott says:

    Excellent article

    We went through a period of ‘strategic insolvency’ in 2004. This resulted in Gordon Gibb walking away from the club after an irreconcilable falling out between himself and the Rhodes family, thus giving the Rhodes control of the club, at the expense of having the stadium outside of the club’s control. Needless to say, the Football League would very rightly view a third period of administration in 7/8 years very darkly indeed (and fourth in 26 years if you add 1983 into that). As would I. I think a ten point deduction would be extremely light, all things considered.

    The crucial variable here is Bradford City Council. Simply put, they are the most incompetent local authority in the UK bar none. They have a penchant for very grandiose schemes that look very pretty on the front page of the Telegraph and Argus, but often collapse. The epitome of this is the very large hole in the middle of the city centre that has stood idle for five years without mall developer Westfield paying one penny in penalty clauses. The entire development is now “shelved”. See also the current Odeon cinema fiasco, and the 1960s demolition of vast tracts of the city centre, to be replaced by buildings which were then demolished in 2004 to yield the current hole.

    Just what makes them think a £70 million development that yields a stadium that is too small for either prospective tenant – Bradford Bulls’ record home crowd is 24,020 vs Leeds in the Super League era – is good value for money, is a mystery. As you say, the most sensible thing would be to purchase Valley Parade from the Gibb pension fund and complete the redevelopment. The cost of ground purchase would be far less than £70m. But that sort of joined up thinking is beyond the powers-that-be in City Hall.

    My own personal opinion is that I would, reluctantly, support a move from Valley Parade if it meant a guaranteed long-term future for the club, free from severe rental terms and overheads. There is no doubt a redeveloped Valley Parade is a fitting monument to 11-5-85; I was only seven years old at the time and thank my lucky stars a) I wasn’t there, and b) my dad could jump over the Paddock wall of the ill-fated stand. The annual minute’s silence on the anniversary is never less than moving. But if a move meant a better future for the club, then I could come to terms with it; a club away from Valley Parade is better than no club at all. This opinion is probably the minority view though.

    But as the current plans stand, I couldn’t support the move.

  2. CTT says:

    Two things should happen:

    1) The rugby club should change their name back to Bradford Northern.
    2) If they’re that desperate for another sport at Odsal, they should reform the speedway team there.

    Why don’t City have a word with Park Avenue? Wasn’t their, ahem, controversial chairman Bob Blackburn making grand claims about how he was going to build them a 20,000 seater stadium? Maybe they could share the burden with him?

  3. Michael Wood says:

    A subject close to my heart. Gordon Gibb has never had the credit afforded to someone like John Bachelor at York City or many other chairman who seem to exit the company coincidental holding the biggest asset in their own name so it is nice to see this being recognised in a wider context.

    There is, of course, no reason at all to leave Valley Parade. The rent of £1m is a headline figure but is not all paid to Gibb – the seats, for example, are rented from another company and are part of the annual “cost of being at Valley Parade” figure but not paid to the former chairman (and let us not start to talk about why the seats and everything else that can or can not be screwed down at Valley Parade was sold and leased back to the club) and some of the expenses would be incurred or matched at Odsal (or anywhere else the Bantams were to play)

    The headline saving of £1m is not there – although there is a merit in ensuring that Gibb gets not a penny more in rent – and were we in a council run facility the penalties we may suffer – from not being able to pick our own match days to having to play on a pitch that is used for Rugby League – may be worth the money paid through gritted teeth to Gordon Gibb.

    Gibb incidentally manages to hold the entirely contradictory set of views that he owns a “worthless” stadium – a nice way to talk about a place which has a memorial outside – but refused to sell back the ground for anything less than 125% of the £2.5m he spend on it (the other £2.5m was paid by Lombard bank for the offices and club shop).

    Gibb has also never answered a question as simple as with the sale of the ground to him for £2.5m and a guaranteed rent that runs easily over half a million pounds a year how many other investors other than the sitting chairman were offered what seems to be a Goose that lays Golden eggs? The rate of rent payments increased after the first five years but most calculations have Gibb turning a profile after seven years and with that sort of return would a multitude of people – people who might have offered more for the ground or agreed to less rent – be interested. One has to wonder if the chairman selling a ground to himself for these sort of returns without offering it around is not something that needs investigating further.

    Of course all this happened in a period where football clubs in general and Bradford City specifically were scrambling for life and some point exploited that scramble to emerge with handsomely lined pockets. Geoffrey Richmond is dubbed as the crook of Bradford City but he was declared bankrupt while Gibb emerged with the biggest assets the club has and guaranteed income he has already used to recoup the outlay.

    The best route would be for the club to stay at Valley Parade, the Bulls to move in if they really have to but on the proviso that the ground is bought back from Gibb using council funds (I’m a Bradford tax payer and I see the council fritter away far more than £3m on schemes that never benefit anyone in this diverse community) and returned for the use of the club and its tenants as a community owned facility with an eye to returning it to the football club.

    Such thinking will never get a grip at Bradford City Hall though I fear.

    Excellent article.

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