Bradford City Boss Addresses CEO Criticism

Bradford City manager Graham Alexander has defended club CEO Ryan Sparks after fans voiced their frustration at the board in their 3-0 loss to Harrogate Town last weekend.

Sparks, who was given the role of chief executive officer in November 2020 aged just 29, has overseen a turbulent few seasons at Valley Parade.

City fans were hoping 2024 would be the year they end their five-year stay in League Two, with expectations high after making the play-offs in 2022/23. But following a string of poor results, manager Mark Hughes was relieved of his duties just 11 matches into the league campaign. Experienced EFL operator Graham Alexander was the man tasked with steering the Bantams ship back in the right direction.

The 52-year-old has had mixed fortunes thus far and pressure is growing on him already. An eight-game unbeaten run to end 2023 gave supporters hope that he was truly building towards something, but four straight defeats from mid to late March have seen them drop out of play-off contention.

Most recently a poor display away to Harrogate saw Bradford condemned to a 3-0 defeat and they have now conceded 11 goals in their last three outings. There were chants from the travelling fans against the board, including CEO Ryan Sparks.

Graham Alexander however has backed his superior and still believes in the project:

“Sometimes it’s the players, sometimes it’s managers, sometimes it’s people above that (who get criticised),” he said, via The Yorkshire Post.

“My experience in my four-and-a-half months is that Ryan has supported me, allowed me to manage, pick the team, coach and make the decisions I wanted to in January. It’s just part of the game and unfortunately it happens.”

There has also been widespread criticism of owner Stefan Rupp by Bantams fans and the German today broke his silence on the dire situation the club find themselves in, with a statement released on the club’s website:

“Last week, Ryan Sparks requested to meet me in Germany, to address a number of topics concerning him, both in the short and long term.

We began the summer ahead of this season with a competitive budget, based on the current model, which we hoped could deliver play-off football. However, as the better-resourced clubs continued to spend, it is clear our budget became less competitive. 

I recognise that over the past six months in particular, I have not been present enough and have been too quiet. For that, I apologise. My intention going forward is to be more visible, and I will communicate more regularly with you to ensure you are kept updated on plans for the club’s future.

While I own the club, I want to make my commitment clear, that alongside Ryan, Graham and our staff, we intend to drive it forward, and bring genuine hope and excitement back to Valley Parade. “

Writer’s View:

Bradford City had hoped of taking the next step this campaign but for a number of reasons it has not panned out this way. The Bantams have a demanding fanbase and so another season of League Two mediocracy is something many of them had hoped not to endure this time around.

Graham Alexander though has proven in the past he can be a quality manager given the right circumstances, so if everything above him falls into place, success could follow at Valley Parade next season. The owner and CEO are saying the right things but there have been false promises one too many times in recent years for fans to get excited just yet. Only time will tell if the latest group of staff are the ones to get Bradford back on track.


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