City fans were today urged not to be bitter at Nahki Wells for joining Huddersfield.
Wells last night signed a four-and-a-half-year deal with the Terriers and is available to make his Championship debut against Millwall this afternoon.
His move to their local rivals brought a strong reaction from a section of City fans – but joint-chairman Mark Lawn insisted the Bermudian deserves to be remembered fondly for his goal-scoring exploits. “Every single Bradford City supporter should wish Nahki the best in his future career,” said Lawn.
“He helped us stay up the year we were awful, he then helped us to get into a major cup final and then back to Wembley to win promotion.
“Of course, it was not just him but his goals went a long way. We should have nothing but admiration for the lad and what he has achieved with this club.
“You can’t knock any player for showing ambition and we hope he does really well.
“From a personal point of view, I’ve had some very dark times over the past couple of years and Nahki, along with Phil Parkinson, his staff and the players, got me through that with their achievements.
“I think that shouldn’t be forgotten and I certainly hope to see Nahki one day fulfil his ambition and play in the Premier League. There’s no reason why he can’t.”
The undisclosed fee is thought to be in the region of £1.5million and breaks Huddersfield’s previous record for Marcus Stewart in 1996. The price tag will be further boosted by add-ons based on goals, appearances and promotion and a sizeable sell-on clause.
The T&A understands City were hoping to bring in a replacement in time to play against Bristol City today but any deal won’t happen now by the midday loan deadline.
They have identified several possible strikers, one of them thought to be Aaron McLean of Hull.
Wells enjoyed a prolific record for City and netted 53 goals from 76 starts, including two hat-tricks, after Peter Jackson was persuaded to take a punt on the raw youngster when he was released by Carlisle in the summer of 2011.
He also equalled a club record that had stood for over half a century by scoring in eight successive games at the start of the season.
With 15 goals in League One so far, the onus is now on the team to prove they can still score without him.
Lawn said: “The gauntlet has been thrown down and it’s up to the others to respond.
“Bradford City isn’t just Nahki Wells and never has been. Nahki Wells helped us to achieve what we have but it was a team effort.
“We won games down to team effort and now it’s time for the team to respond and get us those wins we need.”
The money will ensure City have a competitive playing budget again next year. Another knock-on effect should see season tickets maintained at their low prices.
Huddersfield were the third team to make a bid for the striker after City rejected offers from Peterborough last summer and then Wolves. In each case, Wells would have been reluctant to join another club in League One.
There was talk of a Premier League club showing an interest and Wigan were also thought to have enquired.
Lawn said: “Huddersfield were the team he wanted to join. We had other people interested but this was the one Nahki was pushing for.
“When we realised that Nahki wanted to go, it was time for us to move on so we can begin the search for someone else.”
While Wells finally left Valley Parade, there were also two incoming players on a hectic day of business.
Aston Villa’s highly-rated teenage winger Jordan Graham and Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper Arron Jameson both joined City on a month’s loan. Both go straight into today’s squad.