With four league defeats on the bounce including a round 2 departure from the FA Cup against the Latics of Oldham over this past period, the Bantams are at their lowest point of this season's campaign, staring precariously at the prospect of the dreaded drop.
It may sound like a twist of irony but perhaps Stuart and the team can count themselves fortunate that fans are not yet in the stadium as they would be hearing the wrath of frustration and disappointment from the stands.
It is unfortunate, but perhaps a predictable turn of events, since the Bantams have shown some evidence of determination and togetherness. The games against Cheltenham and Oldham in the FA Cup were an improvement and games we should not have lost. Luck, however is scarce when there is a lack of confidence and the evidence clearly shows opposing teams are taking advantage of our weaknesses.
We are in familiar territory here. There are a number of players expected to come back from injury as we approach the Christmas period, and we are hoping to sign up some key players in the January transfer window, but in the interim it will be hard work watching the team trying to salvage some desperately needed points. We hope in the fullness of time, that any new signing can help transform the team, and not fizzle into the background after a couple of appearances which is what we have become accustomed to in recent years.
It appears that our hopeful wish of resources that can complement Stuart will be available in the form of assistance with scouting and recruitment. This is one example of the material conditions needed that can give a favourable opportunity for Stuart, or indeed any manager to succeed in their role. The extension of Stuarts contract for another year shows a bold long term vision that may give some security to Stuart, allowing him to build a strong squad for the future. We understand that, at present, it is difficult see how that will come about and there is a growing deep dissatisfaction among some fans about Stuart's tenure as the manager.
We welcome Ryan Sparks as the new Chief Executive. The timing couldn't be more challenging. Not only will he have the unenviable task of trying to arrest a Club from free falling into the Conference, but also it is such an unprecedented time for football. No-one could have predicted the impact of Covid, and now we are seeing discussion on the return of fans again back to stadiums at a time where we are all still abiding by locally tiered lock-downs due to the impact of the pandemic. There is little chance of Clubs generating extra income from fans returning but at the same time it is understandable there is an impatience from fans to return to watching at the ground. You can see the guidance of what the return of fans means here.
Today, football is at a precipice. There had been growing ill feeling from EFL Clubs towards the PL about an agreed financial support package to be provided to the EFL when the PL were granted permission to restart in June, more than the agreed £125 million advancement of 'solidarity payments to the EFL and National League. In October, the 'big 6' had promised a £250m bailout required by the EFL to stave off a financial disaster among its 72 clubs as part of their 'Project Big Picture' proposal.
Now the PL and EFL have finally reached an agreement on a rescue package. The EFL Statement jointly concludes that League Two Clubs will receive a minimum payment each of £250,000, as part of a £30m grant to both Leagues One and Two Clubs. League One Clubs each get £375,000. The remaining £15m to be distributed using a lost gate revenue. See the detail here. There is £20m of additional grant money available but it will be means tested. It sounds like a lot and for us it is, but will it be enough for the long term? Our answer is no, but it will be very much welcomed as an emergency measure. £250,000 for League Two Clubs equates to just under 17% of the £1.5m Salary Cap which was agreed at the outset of this season. Our initial thoughts are that this is a step in the right direction.
Sustain The Game
In the post match interview after the Carlisle defeat, Stuart McCall was right saying that leadership in general in football is not there. Earlier in November, Chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Select Committee, Julian Knight MP, in reference to the long awaited rescue package, said, “We are losing patience. Fans have waited a long time for a solution that would safeguard their clubs but all they can see is squabbling at the top of the game. Football and its followers deserve better. The current fiasco in reaching an agreement isn’t about the lack of money, but lack of leadership." This lack of leadership was shown on the 20th of November when the DCMS Committee, where the DCMS Select Committee grilled the PL, EFL and FA, where Richard Masters (PL) and Rick Parry were questioned on funding the EFL, and a possible football governance review. Watch the debate here.
The Football Supporters Association (FSA) have been lobbying MP's calling on the government to kick start it's 2019 Manifesto pledge to initiate a 'fan-led' review which we believe must be delivered now in order to enact new legislation on football governance.
The 'Sustain The Game' campaign initiated by the FSA, earlier this year, calls for urgent action which begins with the government's 'fan-led' review. The campaign is based on five key principles and aims to, protect clubs, increase transparency, implement strong independent financial controls, strengthen the football pyramid, and increase supporter engagement.
You can see those 5 principles developed here.
The FSA has made a series of proposals to the FA, and has had the backing of the of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Football Supporters. You can see these proposals here.
These are bold, and dare we say radical reforms compared to the cultural norms of allowing football to sort-out its own house and accepting the domination of the free market within the game. It is clear football needs a massive overhaul, and regulatory restructuring that would see a massive redistribution of wealth from the top to the bottom to give every club the chance to compete as opposed to let the strongest survive philosophy that is upheld today. The 'greed is good' culture can only be swept away and a sound future for all football clubs can only be achieved through the human solidarity and collective strength of football supporters. We cannot solely rely on the powers that be in football or the politicians in parliament.
With best wishes and stay safe.
From all of us on the Bantams Supporters Trust Board