City will lose up to £1million on Nahki Wells if he is not sold during the current transfer window.
The striker is pinning his hopes on landing a dream move to a higher-division club and has rejected any moves from the Bantams to extend his current deal.
It is believed that City were prepared to make Wells their highest-paid player – but that offer has fallen on deaf ears.
By the summer, the much-admired striker will be entering the final year of his contract and his value will drop accordingly.
That is the fear for City and could impact on the wage bill that Phil Parkinson will have at his disposal for next season.
City can argue that they would not be in this position if the player had another 12 months on his contract.
The T&A understands that the club have spoken privately with Wells’ representative, asking what the offer would need to be to extend his current deal by just one more year.
But it was made very clear that the player’s heart is set on playing in the Championship next season and he would not accept any offer now because there was no guarantee of doing that with the Bantams.
City are therefore wrestling with the dilemma of cashing in on their prize asset now – and getting the best possible price – or hanging on to him until the summer and facing the knock-on effect to next season’s budget.
Given that the club boosted Parkinson’s wage bill this year with money earned from the Capital One Cup run, funds will need to be raised in order to maintain a similar competitive pot for 2014-15.
The £1million shortfall on Wells’ worth, should his contract tick into its last season and potentially within a year of walking away for nothing, could be the difference between another top-half wage bill in League One or not.
As it stands, City are expected to lose around £750,000 this season, which will focus the board’s thinking on their leading striker.
City have already knocked back one bid this week from an unnamed club. It was an improvement on the seven-figure offer from Peterborough that was rejected in July but fell short of what the club would consider.
A host of teams are being linked with the 15-goal hitman. Huddersfield, Wolves, Blackburn and QPR are understood to be keen and there has been interest indicated from two Premier League clubs.
But Leeds boss Brian McDermott appeared to cool talk of a possible switch to Elland Road. He said: “Nahki Wells is a good player but he plays for Bradford and Phil Parkinson is another good friend of mine. I imagine he would cost a lot of money.”