Is Football Really a Results Based Business?

We have heard the phrase “Football is a results based business” a lot at Valley Parade in the last decade with it being brought up on Nicky Law exit, with Stuart McCall speaking the words as he left and Peter Taylor – who is enjoying mixed results on his fist half dozen games five of which were away from home – accepting the idea on arriving at the club. BfB starts The Barry Articles with the the question:

“Is Football Really a Results Based Business?”

Dave Pendleton Bantamspast Curator & Former City Gent Editor

During the heady days of Bradford City’s Premier League sojourn I remember thinking that hanging on for grim death in the lower reaches of the top flight was about the best a club of City’s stature could hope for in the unequal modern game. Even a fluky cup final appearance was off the agenda as the manager was likely to ignore the temptations of cup glory and commit all to remaining in the lucrative Premier League.

Although our expectations have been lowered quite dramatically during the last decade, the brutal truth is that success is likely to be just as fleeting in the lower reaches. The odd promotion, perhaps wild eyed we might dream of re-establishing ourselves in the Championship. Trophies? Think Johnstone’s Paint. So, in truth do the results really matter that much? Our support base, and TV income relevant to which ever division we find ourselves in, dictate that we can never compete with the majority of Premier League clubs and a fair number of Championship clubs.

If we accept that we have a level, then surely it is performances and entertainment that matter and not results? City do have a minor footballing tradition. Remember the chants of ‘we want football’ when John Docherty tried to introduce direct football to Valley Parade? Perhaps a certain style is the best we can achieve. But, I’ll guarantee that some of our fans would be enraged by neat passing, they would scream at the players to ‘get stuck in’ and ‘get it forward’. The squeaky wheel gets the oil, so yes results do matter, particularly if Mark Lawn continues to read the official message board.

Steve Baker Stalwart City fan and Bantams Bar regular

Yes of course it is. Any team, player, manager, chairman, fan or neutral wants to see football teams win football matches. Without that people wont watch games and the commercial aspect to the game falls flat. If this doesn’t exist then you would probably have 1 league in the country – what do all the non-league teams strive for? Existence yes, but you cant argue that they wouldn’t love to be in the 3rd round of the FA Cup at Old Trafford or Anfield. People will watch this, follow it with interest, drive commercial revenues which helps the club out – but all in all they are looking for a win.

We have seen in some circumstances in the last few seasons teams who don’t set-up to win, or who come for a 0-0. But that is the result they are looking for – Grimsby’s nil nil draw with City earlier in the season was a good example. That was the result they were after and its what they got. Result.

If your winning, then things seem easier. If your losing and your backs are against the wall, its tougher. Look at Rafa Bentiez’s current predicament.

Peter Taylor has done enough in my view to warrant a longer contract. He has got results that have seen us gain points, although in some circumstances, the players have let him down. I believe with a full pre-season and a few signings of his choice will make a world of difference. Winning football matches makes people (fans, players, commercial investors) interested in football.

So how can we argue its about anything else?

Jason Mckeown City Gent & BfB Writer

The result on a Saturday afternoon is the most important factor for any club – but it cannot become the be all and end all.

Club strategies have to be built on more solid foundations than the up-and-down nature of a league campaign. There are greater responsibilities and longer-term interests to be mindful of, which Bradford City clearly realise.

Financially sinking in 2002 and 2004, the Bantams fell to the point where it became difficult to feel upset about defeats. The club was on its knees, relying on the community and fanbase it represents to keep going. Was the club saved so every subsequent resource could be piled into buying players more able to win matches, or for the enjoyment fans shared in supporting a football team and the difference it makes to the area? After the rescue in 2004, we fans quickly turned back attention to the joy and despair of results – but we’ve never forgotten what we might have lost.

And in recent years, City has put longer-term interests ahead of short-term results. A season ticket initiative that puts more bums on seats than pennies in the bank; a manager in Stuart McCall who was given time and patience to develop, at the detriment of instant results; a youth set up which is costly to run and has provided only limited returns. These are not quick-fix approaches and may have cost City success, but they matter to its fanbase and community.

The result on a Saturday afternoon is the most important factor for any club – when everything else is competently managed.

David Markham T&A Reporting Legend

Results business has become a football cliché – repeated by directors as their reasons – or should that be excuses – for sacking managers. And not only managers, supporters abuse managers from the stands, write letters to the press or usually nowadays messages on websites to build up pressure and often directors capitulate.

It is true, of course, that managers live or die by results. Think of Stuart McCall, who resigned from City a month ago – another ten points and maybe he would still be at Valley Parade. If only City had converted their two penalties – Michael Flynn missed at home to Lincoln when the score was 0-0 and City went on to lose 2-0 while Gareth Evans missed two minutes from the end of the Accrington match – another two points were dropped. Think also of the needless penalty given away at home to Cheltenham and the last minute equaliser scored by Northampton to realise what a thin dividing line there is between success and failure in management.

Managerial changes are not always the solution to a club’s problems. Think of the managerial changes made in League Two this season – Peter Jackson sacked at Lincoln with the season barely a month old, replaced by a high profile ex-player Chris Sutton and yet the club are still hovering just above the relegation zone. Mike Newell, sacked by Grimsby in November, but the club are still threatened with relegation to the Blue Square Premier League.

Of course, directors would not be human if they were not tempted to make changes to obtain improved results – and it is easier to sack one man – the manager – than get rid of 11 players.

To go back to the original question, as financial pressures increase and media and fans become more and more impatient for success results become more important than ever. Lots of fans would rather see their side play badly and win rather than play well and lose.

Perhaps directors should take more care in choosing their managers and giving them contracts. And then give them more time to develop their plans instead of wielding the axe after two or three bad results or a bad start to the season. It was remarkable how managerial casualties there were in the first couple months of this season. As well as achieving good results at first team level, managers must also be given time to develop youth policies and scouting systems, which are crucial to the long term future of all clubs. Clubs yearn for stability. Few achieve it because of the ‘results business’ syndrome. Think of two of most successful English clubs – Manchester United and Arsenal – and think of how long Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger have been in their jobs. Is there a lesson to be learned there?

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