The Michael Wood Column

Thursday 10 January, 2002

I fear for City if the Richmond Out brigade find a voice on Saturday

If it was not so pathetic you could laugh. There is a growing Richmond out brigade on the terraces at Valley Parade. A poor result against Portsmouth, it is said, will hear call for the man to resign as City chairman, pack up and leave town.

If there is one thing that you could say in the favour of City's chairman it is that under his stewardship it would possible for him to leave the club and the club not to fold as York City are facing now. Richmond has made Bradford City a going concern that can tick over without a rich backer.

However that is not the only thing you can say about Richmond without selling the man short.

And at this point is I am hoping to deviate from most defences of Geoffrey Richmond. Most defences of Richmond run along these lines: When Geoffrey Richmond picked us up we were a debt ridden struggling Second Division club. He took us to the Premiership, we stayed there and even though we came down, we have a seat at the Premiership Two table, which means a brighter future for City than had the man not joined us.

Perhaps I should stop here. That is a reasonable defence of Richmond, to look at his past achievements and point to the fact that there is a reasonable chance that just as clubs go in cycle, so do Chairmen and GR at the moment is on a low, rising back up soon. That would be a decent defence. It is not the defence I will use.

Put simply. Geoffrey Richmond is running City how City should be run.

It is that simple.

Firstly the issue of funds for players. Jack Walker set the scene, bankrolling Blackburn Roves to the championship. Accepting that Geoffrey Richmond is not Jack Walker or Mohammed Fayed, and he never has said he was, then I am glad that the chairman does not invest in the club until the only thing that saves the club from bankruptcy is his investment ergo his whim.

As Bradford City fans we have an obligation to try to make this club better for the next generation of Bantams. In the future when we had over City to those five year olds that get in the way of the tea bar now what do we want to give them? A club that is self financing or one that the chairman could wind up if he takes his bat and ball home?

It is not that I would not like to see million pumped into bringing the best talent to the team, I would, but as the Wolves experience show all the money Jack Haywood put in could not bring success. Wolves have been in the First Division longer than 22 of the other clubs (Same time as Portsmouth). At City we have wasted millions in the past year on the likes of David Hopkin, Dan Petrescu, Ian Nolan (Who's contract was costly to run and terminate), Bruno Rodriguez, Jorge Cadete, Issy Rankin and on and on. Those players mention set the club back around £4m not including wages and signing on fees. York City will go out of business if they cannot find a similar amount soon.

In short bankrolling the club puts the future of Bradford City at risk and I am glad that Geoffrey Richmond will not entertain the idea.

So what will make the club Premiership material again? One thing. Good management.

That is good management at all levels. As chief executive Geoffrey Richmond is working wonders for the club. Even if you are dead against him you can not deny the impressiveness of the stadium that he prioritised building nor could you deny it's leverage in getting us to the table of Premiership Two. Put simply when the drawbridge of football comes up teams with grounds of 15,000 will be on the other side of the moat.

Nor could you envisage the success of the Up Front shops around West Yorkshire. In terms of marketing on the club's strength and identity Up Front is a genuine masterstroke and far from costing the club money (as some have suggested) it makes money at the moment and all signs point to it continuing to do so and, tellingly, it makes money from people who are not Bradford City supporters. You do not need to be claret and amber through and through to appreciate cheap golf clubs.

Youth spending and scouting are accusations thrown at Richmond. City need training and youth development put in place and Richmond has had little success in getting these. In the last six months of the Premiership City could hardly train at the flooded Appley Bridge site and it showed on the field. This is one of Richmond's failures.

However he is the only man trying to do the task. No new chairman, which is what the Richmond Out brigade is effectively asking for, is going to come in to prioritise building a training pitch. If Richmond is not doing it, no one is and Richmond is trying and as we have seen in the past when Richmond tries he generally succeeds, given time.

Scouting is a different issue. Without naming names BfB had a source close to the scouting network that left City in the summer of 2001 and the problems were not at Geoffrey Richmond's door. Our scouting system brought Neil Harris (Millwall), Jason Roberts (West Brom, was Bristol Rovers), Tommy Miller (Ipswich, was Hartlepool) and Bobby Zamora at Brighton who has bagged 25 this season and is wanted by Spurs for £5m. All recommendations ignored by Paul Jewell and Chris Hutchings who would only sign "Proven Premiership players", a policy that BfB has been assured came from the managers, not form the chairman. Put simply, the scouting system fell apart because it was not being used. It is up to the manager to put and keep it in place.

Which brings us to Nicky Law, Geoffrey Richmond's choice for City boss following Jim Jefferies quitting. Only time will tell on Law's appointment but to be honest with the candidates on offer, Stan Collymore excluded, he was as impressive as any I heard of.

The bottom line is that Geoffrey Richmond is running Bradford City how it should be run. Mistake are made and I would back any infallible man who wanted any job, but such does not exist and on a day by day basis City are doing much better with Richmond than without him.

They said "Who would want the manager's job at City" after Jim Jefferies quit. Who would want the chairmanship of a club that hounds a successful man from the club? Who could do better?

I fear for Bradford City should the Richmond Out brigade find a voice on Saturday.

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