Bradford’s Community Club dream
One of West Yorkshire’s most historic football clubs is calling on the city’s fans to get behind non-league teams as they prepare to operate as a community setup from next season.
Bradford Park Avenue, who currently play in the sixth tier of England’s football league will no longer be privately owned after the current campaign concludes.
Instead, a push to become a club ‘run by the people, for the people,’ will be made, with facilities opened up to a greater audience of all backgrounds.
Plans are already being discussed to develop cutting-edge 3G playing facilities, hospitality, adjoining cricket pitches and classroom and community spaces.
BPA club and community director, Joe Moseley, said he was excited for the challenge ahead and looked forward to partnering with community groups to make BPA a ‘people’s club’.
“I think it’s going to be fantastic,” he said. “We’re hoping to transform the club but it’s going to take a lot of partnering with community groups and the backing of key stakeholders in and around the city.”
He added: “The current problem is there’s no money in the game so if we can open the facility and get the community involved, we can tap into the funds. Not only this, but we can also get more people attending games which makes the whole club sustainable.
“Football outside the top six in the Premier League is not sustainable. A business wouldn’t be allowed to run up £29 million worth of debt in any other industry.
“Money needs to filter down to this level, that’s why this model is so important. This will build and build and we’re putting together a five year plan over the next few months with an architect. The ultimate vision here is quite impressive.”
Next month, on Saturday 16th April, the club will host a fan’s diversity event against Worcester City.
Football charity, Sports Campaign Against Racism (SCAR) are leading the initiative as a way of getting more young fans and fans of different ethnicities interested in non-league football.
With a host of events set to be staged on the day, it will be the club’s first of many steps to becoming more community-orientated.
Humayun Islam, co-founder of the Shapla Football Academy is lending his support to the event.
He said: “This is a fan’s diversity event which will involve showing young people that BPA exists.
“A lot of kids won’t even know this fantastic club is here. The diversity event is all about introducing a local team and not only Bradford City but supporting non-league teams aswell.
“It’s going to be a sport campaign, getting the kids to come here for a penalty shoot here, enjoying BPA play and then potentially leading on to more community events here.
“Eventually the kids might want to play for BPA. It’s increasing the Asian participation through these teams really and giving everyone those realistic opportunities.”
Anwar Uddin is one Asian footballer who enjoyed a decade-long career in the English football league.
Currently a representative of the football supporter’s federation and Kick It Out, the Bengali non-league supporter is all about fan participation.
“At this level of the game, supporters to a club are more than just the customer, they’re the heartbeat,” he said.
“Clubs at this level need them. Supporters at this level aren’t in their thousands but they are so loyal, and it’s about bringing in the wider community, together with those fans, to see if they can take on that relationship.
“That’s what it’s all about. Non-league football is proper football.”
If you would like to attend the Fans Diversity Event at BPA, or want more information about the project, please contact Humayun on 07868 322723.