Issue Where are the Bantams?

As told by Michael Wood

Negotiations carry on around the future of Bradford City and where they will play next season – and going forward form that – with talk about leaving Valley Parade. Odsal is the assumed destination but Mark Lawn was quick to point out that Bradford is a big area with many sites available.

With this comes talk of City moving up the Aire Valley towards Keighley. It is thought that Bradford City supporters are increasingly based in the area to the North West of the City and that it would make sense to relocate the club in that direction. Indeed when there is talk about City fans clubbing together to buy Valley Parade there is a separate conversation which discusses if millions of pounds raised by supporters might be better spent on a new stadium rather than the ground in Manningham, Bradford.

Popular wisdom tells us the Aire Valley – rather than the middle of Bradford or its immediate suburbs – is where the City fans are, but how accurate is this? Aside from speculation it is difficult to find any hard and fast data on where Bantams fans are. So at BfB we thought we would ask.

The method

A question was asked to people who follow BfB’s Twitter feed for them to send the first half of their postcode. This message was repeated three times over the course of the weekend of the 6th, 7th and 8th of May 2011.

The assumption was that the Twitter feed would represent a cross section of supporters and that enough supporters to give a picture of the distribution of post codes would respond. It was also assumed that respondents would be Bradford City supporters who went to games.

The post codes were plotted onto a map with varying sizes of circles used to represent the number of respondents within that post code. A modification was done on these circle sizes in order to maintain a visual integrity of the wider circles.

That calculation is:
cityfans[postcode].population * (500 + (250/(cityfans[postcode].population)))

The limitations

Twitter naturally taints results towards its user base which is slightly younger than the general public. The sample size gained – eighty – represents around 1 in 137 Bradford City supporters (considering the attendance of the final game of the season) and a better study could be achieved by using a wider sample size. There is no guarantee that respondents regularly visited Valley Parade. Post Code areas are sized around populations rather and land area and so many rural areas have larger surface covered by their post code than urban areas.

The results

The map of Bradford City supporters can be found here. The data which supports that map is available to anyone who wants it (it is anonymous data which is basically a set of post codes and coordinates) but written out the eight responses were:

B16, BB5, BD2, BD2, BD2, BD2, BD2, BD2, BD2, BD3, BD3, BD6, BD6, BD9, BD9, BD10, BD12, BD12, BD13, BD13, BD14, BD14, BD14, BD15, BD15, BD15, BD15, BD16, BD16, BD17, BD17, BD18, BD18, BD19, BD19, BD19, BD19, BD20, BD21, BD21, BD22, BD24, BN3, CH48, DH1, DN14, DY1, DY6, GU12, HD4, HD6, HD6, HU18, LN2, LS6, LS12, LS16, LS16, LS17, LS24, LS25, LS28, LS29, LS29, M1, M14, M6, MK45, NG13, NN10, PL2, PR3, RG42, S1, SL4, SW9, UB7, WF6, YO16, YO23.

My take

Data analysis is a science and I could not offer a definitive answer to the question as to where the Bantams are but looking at the map it is obvious that Valley Parade (the more northern of the two markers, the other being Odsal) is situated very much within the heaviest population of Bradford City supporters.

Indeed looking at the idea that City’s fans are in the Aire Valley while it is true that there are populations of Bantams supporters in those areas these would appear similar in size to those to the South of Valley Parade in Cleckheaton and in Brighouse. The Aire Valley – so this limited survey suggests – is no more a home of City fans than any other direction away from Valley Parade.

The point

Data collected on Twitter and ink blot maps are not the definitive statement on the distribution of Bradford City supporters but they do show a challenge to the received wisdom about a migration of City fans into the Aire Valley (or indeed any other direction) showing Bantams supporters very much within urban Bradford while expanding in all four directions. York, London, Manchester and Leeds all have distributions of supporters.

If this data can be gathered over a weekend and conclusions drawn from it then one has to wonder what analysis of the Bradford City season ticket holder’s database would present and what conclusions could be drawn from that. Certainly when talking about relocating the club one would hope this data would be investigated rather than assumed.

Much of Bradford City is received wisdom: That the fans are here and not there, that these people will come to games that those will not, that this behaviour is set in stone; and one has to wonder if that received wisdom is challenged and – if it is not – if by asking the supporters (and lapsed supporters) the right questions new truths would be revealed.