My previous suggestion that Bradford City would be playing League One football for the 2015/2016 became a reality with their slim hopes of a play-off spot disappearing with a crushing 6-0 defeat at home to the highly impressive champions Bristol City, who could go on to challenge in the Championship.
The Bantams did, however, finish the season with four games unbeaten including an away draw to play-off bound Sheffield United and a win at home against another South Yorkshire team, Barnsley.
City finished 7th in the table, having won 17, drawn 14 and lost 15 with 55 goals finding the net at both ends of the pitch.
The 2014/2015 season will be remembered for their cup exploits. Beating Leeds United in the Capital One Cup was a derby win that gave the fans bragging rights for the first time since 1986!
They had the whole country talking, though, with their FA Cup heroics. Premier League champions and Capital One Cup winners, Chelsea, were outplayed in a momentous 4-2 win at Stamford Bridge then Sunderland were the next top flight victims in a 2-0 victory in front of a heaving Valley Parade and a live national TV audience.
Unfortunately, a Wembley trip wasn’t to be in any competition with Reading beating Phil Parkinson’s men comfortably, 3-0, in an FA Cup replay at the Madejski Stadium.
At the Player of the Year Awards centre half Rory McArdle picked up six trophies. Billy Clarke ended up as top scorer with 14 goals to his name.
New Season, same ambition
A cup run is great, both for the fans and the finances, but City’s priority in 2015/2016 will again be promotion.
League One will possibly be more wide-open than ever. There don’t seem to be any outstanding candidates for automatic promotion and plenty of clubs that will feel a play-off spot is well within their reach.
Sheffield United could have been considered the strongest outfit but who knows now that they have relieved manager Nigel Clough of his duties after they were dumped out of the play-offs by Swindon.
Wigan, Blackpool and Millwall have dropped down from the Championship, replacing the promoted Bristol City, MK Dons and Preston. Burton, Shrewsbury, Bury and Wycombe join from League Two with Notts County, Leyton Orient, Crawley and Yeovil being relegated.
If Bradford can dig deep like they did in their cup run and get some new blood in, particularly to help in the goals for column, then they could be in with a great chance of finishing at least in the top six.
Changes so far
Off the pitch, it’s not been a secret that the Club had a financial suitor in the form of former QPR Chairman, Italian Gianni Paladini. Nothing, however, has materialised in the form of a takeover.
Clough’s sacking at Sheffield United led to the Bramall Lane outfit making an approach to talk to City’s Manager, Phil Parkinson, but the message from Valley Parade was ‘hands off’. Player wise there has been plenty of activity.
A number of players have left Valley Parade. As well as iconic defender Andrew Davies’ surprising move to Ross County in the Scottish Premiership, Aaron Mclean, Andy Halliday, Matty Dolan, Mark Yeates and Jason Kennedy have all moved to pastures new.
Joining the Club in time for pre-season training have been striker Steve Davies from Blackpool, former England under-20s midfielder Josh Morris and the versatile Tommy McMahon rejoining the Bantams on a two year deal after being on loan at the end of last season.
2015/2016 Fixtures released
The one day of the summer all football fans look forward to arrived on 17th June, with many desktop, laptop and smartphone browsers being open before 9am and constantly refreshed for the essential information!
“Who have we got for our first home game?”
“Where are we travelling to for our first away game?”
“Who have we got on boxing day?”
“When are the big derby matches?”
Bradford City fans open their campaign on 8th August with a tough trip to play-off losers Swindon Town, one of the possible contenders for a top six spot. Newly promoted Shrewsbury are the visitors to Valley Parade the following week.
Possibly the biggest Yorkshire derby in League One sees Sheffield United come to town on 19th September with the reverse fixture at Bramall Lane on 28th December.
Two days prior to that on Boxing Day another promoted team, Burton Albion, travel to Bradford and every Bantam will be hoping the last game of the season against Chesterfield is a promotion party!
The first Cup Draw for next season also took place the day before the league fixtures came out and City were handed a visit to League Two club York City.
Fans preparing already
It’s very rare to hear of prices going down in football but that’s exactly what the Club has done with their season ticket prices!
It’ll costs an adult less than £6.50 per match to watch Bradford City home league games next season courtesy of the cheapest season ticket in League One at £149 – £50 less than last season! Juniors will pay just £99 and under-11s go free if an adult ticket is purchased!
The campaign to sell as many as they could was supported by likes of Bradford magician, Dynamo, and former England player, Paul Gascoigne, both of whom backed the #onefournine campaign.
As you’d imagine, these prices mean big sales and ultimately great attendances but the City fans’ response has been so big that the original target of 15,000 has now been smashed with over 18,000 season tickets sold!!!
There’s going to be some atmosphere at Valley Parade!
A new season also means new kit and the Bantams didn’t waste any time in revealing theirs at the player of the year awards. Made by Nike, the check style pattern on the home shirt hasn’t been seen before in the club’s traditional claret and amber but it seems to be popular with fans who have been snapping them up.
Provident prepared as well!
Here at Provident we’re also excited for the upcoming season and the third year of our sponsorship of the club’s Community Enclosure.
Our Good Neighbour programme’s support for the Bradford City Community Foundation will enable lots of kids from local schools and community groups to watch City in action form the enclosure – something they may not be able to afford under normal circumstances.