Football: Bradford to put principles before survival

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The Independent Online
GEOFFREY RICHMOND, the Bradford City chairman, yesterday admitted that he will put profits before Premiership survival next season.

Bradford are back in the top division for the first time since 1922 after clinching the second automatic promotion place from the First Division 10 days ago. However, since then they have been receiving warnings that they will have to spend vast amounts of money to retain their status.

Richmond, though, after promising fans the club would be in the Premiership by the millennium, is not prepared to compromise City's financial position which has seen them make a profit every year since he took over in January 1994.

The pot of gold for reaching the promised land will certainly go a long way to ensuring Richmond achieves his aim, but he remains determined to learn the lessons of seasons past. "We do get a considerable amount of money - pounds 6m - for belonging to the Premier League [from Sky television] and we'll receive an extra pounds 3m from increased attendances and commercial income," Richmond said.

"On the expenditure side there will be wage pressures from existing players and new players and I would anticipate our wage bill will rise by pounds 3m a year. Regardless of anything else, the principle of making profits each year will not be breached - even at the cost of being relegated. We've seen other teams relegated and then take years to recover from financial mismanagement. We will make available all the resources that we can but won't mortgage off the club's future."

Richmond is also refusing to give up on his plans to give pounds 20m to the club's manager, Paul Jewell. However, Richmond had been hoping to float the club on the Stock Exchange, but has been told Bradford are not attractive enough for investors. "We haven't abandoned that line of approach. All I am saying is that it looks less promising, although we're still pursuing it," Richmond said. "In life I've learnt you don't always take the first `no' as the answer, so it's a case of seeking a second opinion and if necessary a third, fourth and a fifth... But the reality of the situation is the club will do whatever it can do within its abilities, its finance and everything within its power to retain its hard fought-for Premiership status.

"We are very upbeat indeed and we are determined to retain what our principal weapon was in getting to the Premiership - that is the team spirit."

While Richmond sorts out the club's finances, he admits "there will be no early signings". Despite this several names have already been linked with the club, including the Sheffield Wednesday defender Jon Newsome, the striker Kevin Campbell and the midfielder Neil Redfearn, who is eager to return to Yorkshire following Charlton's relegation.

However, Richmond said: "Obviously there's plenty of names floating around, but there will be no movement at all on incoming players until the end of June at the earliest."

Meanwhile, Bradford's neighbours, Huddersfield, will stage their first England Under-21 international when Peter Taylor ends his reign as coach after three years.

The McAlpine Stadium will host the European Championship qualifier with Sweden on Friday 4 June before Taylor ends his spell in charge in Bulgaria on 8 June.

It will be the first international match in the Yorkshire town for more than half a century since they staged a full England international against the Netherlands in 1946 at Leeds Road.