Behind the scenes at Bradford City’s University of Bradford Stadium
Football fans get to see Bradford City’s University of Bradford Stadium burst into life on a matchday, but have you ever wondered what happens behind the scenes in the build-up to games?
From the ticket office to the club shop, Bradford City’s base has been dubbed a ‘24/7 operation’.
The stadium has been City’s home ground since 1903 and now, 120 years on, they have a club division record of more than 15,000 season ticket holders cheering them on this season as Mark Hughes’ men’s side targets promotion.
But a lot of work goes on day-to-day at the University of Bradford Stadium to help make the club a success both on and off the pitch.
Away from areas including the executive boxes, suites and food and drink kiosks, busy with fans on matchdays, are the other sections of the stadium, where staff work behind the scenes each day.
This includes the stadium’s dressing rooms and kit preparation area.
This section of the stadium features the home and away dressing rooms, the referee’s room, which the match officials use for matches, and a pre-activation room, which Bantams players use on a matchday for indoor preparations before their on-pitch warm-ups by using equipment including exercise bikes.
Even the stadium’s former jail cell, complete with black bars, which used to detain any matchday troublemakers in years gone by, has become a storage space for playing kit for the Bradford City Women’s team.
Looking after the men’s first-team squad’s playing and training kit is a full-on task.
It is not just about washing kit for the team ready for a matchday. Every men’s first-team squad member is given training kit to use each day, which also needs to be washed and redistributed on a continuous cycle.
Each member of the matchday squad is provided with two playing shirts, two pairs of shorts, a towel, undersocks, boxer shorts, match socks, warm-up T-shirts, a Global Positioning System (GPS) vest worn during games, warm-up zip-up top and a raincoat. Each player also has flip flops provided.
For away matches, huge boxes of kit and equipment are packed and travel with club staff, alongside a selection of sweets, sports drinks and bananas to boost the players’ energy levels.
Like a family
The claret and amber-clad home dressing room, located a few steps from the pitch, features a space and overhead locker for each first-team squad member.
Dom Lister, City’s Kit Manager, pictured above, said: “This is my second season. I love it. If you really love football, then this is your dream job.
“People don’t realise how much goes into getting a squad of 30 players and 10 staff members prepped for each day’s training and matchdays. In football, it’s almost like a family.”
Meanwhile, selling City’s replica kit and other goods to supporters means the Bradford City Store is a busy place.
The Bantams officially opened the Bradford City Store and Valley Parade Ticket Office in the South Parade section of their home in June 2022, with fans snapping up City-related merchandise ever since.
Items available inside the store include everything from the club’s three replica kits, training wear, scarves, baby bibs to Bradford City-branded bags of sweets.
Molly Egan, Bradford City Store Manager, pictured above, and her team operate both the stadium’s outlet and online store.
She said: “Through the week it’s about the upkeep of the shop, keeping it stocked up and at the weekend it’s when it all erupts and when there’s a home match on, you just can’t move.
Kit launch is a busy time and Christmas is too, just like any retail store.
Molly, in her eighth season working for the club, added the home replica shirt is the most popular item that fans buy. She added young supporters, in particular, enjoy wearing them as fashion items, with jeans.
The name printing, where fans can get their own surname and a number or a player’s surname and his squad number on the back of the shirts, is popular with fans. Cook 9, for striker Andy Cook, is the most popular shirt printing purchase this season.
The University of Bradford is playing its part to help the club go for glory after they teamed up to become official partners.
The link-up between the University and the Sky Bet League Two club, nicknamed the Bantams, kicked off in summer 2022 with a four-year deal to officially launch the University of Bradford Stadium name.
The thriving association was further strengthened in June 2023 when the University of Bradford became the official back-of-shirt sponsors for at least the next three seasons. This sees the University’s logo featured on City’s home, away and third choice shirts.
This also includes advertising boards featuring University of Bradford branding on display throughout the stadium, traditionally known as Valley Parade.
Both representatives from the Bantams and the University of Bradford say the partnership between the two organisations is working well.
Eleanor Clyde-Evans, the University of Bradford’s Associate Director, Engagement, Development & Communications, said: “The University and the Club are both values-led organisations; we are aligned in what we stand for.
“The partnership so far has been a great success from working together on community-based projects to support young people’s attainment at GCSE level, to offering our own students a more varied experience whilst at University giving them free match tickets.
This partnership will continue to go from strength-to-strength with new ways in which we can support one another.
Davide Longo, City’s Chief Commercial Officer, says the deal has brought wider brand awareness to the University of Bradford, including the branding on player’s shirts, particularly when a Bantams home match against Grimsby Town was screened live on Sky Sports in September 2023.
He said: “We are a 24/7 operation. It is not just a football stadium, it’s a community stadium.
“We have 40 to 50 members of staff, and most areas are covered in a variety of different operations.
“It’s not just about the football on a Saturday. It’s about retail, catering and community engagement, everything we do to develop the brand of Bradford City.”