PERSONAL identity is a tricky issue. Where we were born, where our parents come from, what language we speak, where we live... all of these affect our sense of self to a greater or lesser degree.

Witness the way our nation has wrestled for centuries with interpreting and understanding our relationship with our nearest European neighbours, France.

At one time, parts of it were ruled by England - as a result of our being invaded by France in the shape of the Normans 400 years earlier (and even the Normans originated from Scandinavia).

At times we have been the deadliest of enemies, not least when Napoleon was expanding his empire - and yet we were France’s greatest ally in two world wars.

Today we fight extremism and international terrorism side by side.

How that relationship develops post Brexit will, no doubt, provide another twist or two.

Will we be Europeans who are just not part of the European Union? Or Britons who used to be European?

The Remainers, of course, will probably want to continue to be Europeans while the Leavers may see themselves as British only.

But what if you're a Leaver whose spouse is European? Or a European who has moved to Britain and married a Welsh person?

Bradford, with its proud history as a welcoming centre for immigration from many parts of the world has wrestled with these issues for centuries as well.

As a Bradford-born person of Asian descent with both parents born in Pakistan, are you British or Asian of both?

Is the child of an Irish immigrant who married a Lithuanian settler English, Irish, Eastern European or all three?

The permutations are endless but the key factor in these debates is always a sense of belonging.

Humans are tribal by definition; we gravitate towards others of a like mind or similar background or belief. None more so, perhaps, than sports fans.

Tens of thousands of people support their local football or rugby league team and actively do so alongside others of a multitude of backgrounds, beliefs and cultures. The ties that bind are born out of a shared sense of belonging to their team's tribe of fans.

And if tens of thousands support soccer teams, the number who support their wider community, the place where they live and work, can run into hundreds of thousands. Even those who criticise and carp about their home town will defend it vigorously against attacks from outsiders.

Imagine then, the reaction to any proposal to merge the management of Bradford City, Leeds United, Halifax Town, York City, Huddersfield Town and others under the banner of Leeds United Regional Football Teams Incorporated.

The outcry from fans would be enormous. Wouldn’t Leeds – the “senior team” – get all the money and all the best players?

So if the people of those towns and cities were told they were now all going to be run by an organisation calling itself Leeds City Region, shouldn't the outcry be staggeringly massive? Especially as that body would not be directly elected.

That is exactly where we could be by the end of this week if the West Yorkshire Combined Authority goes ahead with its proposal to rebrand itself.

After dedicating 25 years of my life to promoting and defending Bradford’s brand both in and out of the district, my inclination is to resist anything which waters down the perception that Bradford is anything other than the fourth largest metropolitan district in the country and a major player in its own right.

The city has come a long way in the last few years and I won’t rehearse again my earnest belief in its future potential. What it doesn’t need is to be subsumed into Leeds where it risks becoming just a suburb, in the way Bolton is to Manchester or Coventry to Birmingham.

At least, that’s what my heart says.

My head, though, tells a different story.

We know, don’t we, that Bradford can’t live on its past glories? The wool trade that built it is all but gone and, despite many significant initiatives and that huge potential, we’re struggling to find the drivers with which to build and remodel our economy in the way Leeds did as a major financial and retail centre.

Working together with neighbouring districts facing similar challenges, there must be a way to use that combined clout to bring more funding and more control to all of them.

It doesn’t need to lead to a loss of local identity.

To return to that football analogy, if the combined management team under a Leeds banner could bring in more cash to pay for better players for all the individual teams, each of them would surely benefit? As long as the funds were fairly distributed – and surely the combined clout of the other teams would keep Leeds United from getting too greedy – all of those teams would improve.

And, of course, their fans would still shout for their own teams at every opportunity. When Bradford eventually play Leeds and Huddersfield in the Championship (as they surely will soon), no-one will stop the fans shouting for their own sides, regardless of who manages the money.

An organisation that brings together key players to work together in the interests of all must surely place all those players in a stronger position and, thereby, help to drive improvements and growth across the piste.

But what’s in a name? Well, deep emotional ties and centuries of history which can’t be overcome with the stroke of a pen.

If the WYCA wants to make this re-branding work, it needs to win some hearts and minds.

There are two things it could do immediately: first, change the name not to Leeds City Region but to the Leeds City Regional Partnership to emphasise that it’s not just about the one big centre; and, secondly, guarantee funding to promote and develop the individual identities of the component districts.

As I said, it’s all about belonging. And Bradford does not and never will belong to, or in, Leeds….