Issue Be a friend of Bradford City

As told by Michael Wood

Friends of Bradford City has been relaunched because, quite frankly, the club needs help.

Friends of Bradford City has been relaunched with organiser Mark Neale underlining how the club need assistance in the Summer of 2011. Assistance was to be the theme of the summer. Collecting money in buckets, auctioning off items, raising the funds to keep going in administration. As it was that assistance was not needed.

Neale – a friend of BfB going back some time – is experienced at dealing with chairmen at Bradford City having seen them come and go in his various roles with supporters organisations which has has manned with dedication over the last two decades or more. He took a list of requirements to the club to get Friends of Bradford City up and running and independent of the club itself. The club agreed to them.

The Friend’s first aim is a practical one – they are raising money for a bus for the Youth Team – but there is a desire to go further that meets up with the way the club needs to go after four bruising years.

The years of affordable pricing – a fine and noble thing – have coincided with four season in the fourth tier of English football and this with other factors (many out of control of the club) have combined to make a detachment between club and supporter.

More and more we are consumers of the Bradford City product rather than the supporters of the Bradford City cause.

We pays our money, or so the thinking goes, and the club puts on the football. When that football does not pass what a person considers to be acceptable then the ire flows. It is vandalism – in my humble opinion – but I understand the motivation behind it. Because the supporter does not feel as if the club needs anything from him other than his money then club becomes a product.

Neale says of his Friends of Bradford City scheme “If these fans can help the club in some way – be it carpentry, marketing, whatever – then it will ultimately save the club money.”

Bradford City fans represent a multitude of skills and many of them will be deployed in fund raising for the projects which Friends of Bradford City are involved in but fans have other abilities which the club could call on.

Skills which run further than the snow clearing from the field or the painting of pipes at the club which fan involvement projects often are viewed as. David Baldwin believed he had the skills to run the Christmas campaign for Season Tickets last season (one would have one’s own view on if that was successful) but supporters have experience, talent and ability which could be deployed in projects like that.

Take – as another example – the data capture BfB ran to plot post codes onto a map. The club’s season ticket data and someone with expertise in data mining could identify areas of lapsed season ticket holders, someone else could look at shaping an offer for those people, someone else at a mail shot all of which would be designed to get more bums on seats.

One of the most pressing problems – it is said – with the club is that their simply are not enough bodies to do everything. The club could look at Friends of Bradford City for experts in various fields who would give experience and abilities. The pay off for this is a better club and supporters who are more engaged. Supporters who are not just consuming the product, but are creating the club. A Bradford City of the willing and the willing credited, rewarded and thanked. There must be space in the match day magazine to credit (and give business contact details) of those who have mucked in.

We constantly hear how City’s boardroom is full of Bradford City fans, and the virtues of that, the key question the club must ask itself is how much control it is prepared to hand over to other fans who get involved for the love of the club.