WHEN Bradford (Park Avenue) appointed a new director of football operations earlier in the month, many fans were intrigued to see what Martin Knight would bring to this new role at the club.

The 50-year-old has made his ambitions clear from the outset, by outlining a plan to create a self-sustaining Avenue for the future.

Knight, who is the father of fan favourite Lewis, wants a restructure to take place to make sure Bradford can not only compete on the pitch, but behind the scenes too.

He believes the club have been caught at a crossroads with their identity and thinks they should be aiming as high as they can if they want to become successful.

He said: “They (Avenue) are too big to be run like a Sunday League club and too small to be run like a proper professional business.

“There are people there who absolutely love the club but don’t necessarily know how to make the next steps. I have written a five-year plan with a budget, a goal and an ethos.

“Lets go for best in class. You can still be inclusive and still look to become the best. We need to change the thinking from 'okay is good enough' to 'be the best that we can be'.

“The football analogy is: 'Who is the Lionel Messi of websites, or digital strategy, or the junior section?' That is the thinking.”

Knight added: “We are going to be self-sustaining. Millions of pounds have been invested and there has been nothing to show for it. No infrastructure, no better pitch, no better stand, and we haven’t got promoted.

“We can add a level of pride. We want to be a professional regional football club. We want to produce a five-star experience for our fans, players and staff.

“If we do that, we will get a higher level of engagement and attendance and we will grow our fanbase. The future is digital, so we have to get a handle on it.

“If you go into Google now and type in Bradford football, we are not even on the first page, which is unbelievably criminal from a business point of view.”

Despite not having any direct football experience, Knight has spent more than 25 years optimising the commercial performance of retail businesses.

Something Bradford have struggled with in the past is that volunteers have often had to bear the rigours of publicising everything, instead of focusing on their love for the club.

Knight wants to increase the level of professionalism at the football club, without disregarding those who commit their free time to the cause.

He said: “I don’t want anyone carrying out a business operation who isn’t employed by the club or has some vested interest in the quality of the work that they produce, a student for example,” he said.

“When you have got a lot of volunteers, they are emotionally attached to the club and their perceived value of their worth is probably higher than if you looked at it from a pure business point of view.

“The trick is working out how I engage with the volunteers and what they are good at, which is the player fund and that kind of stuff.

“Football clubs belong to the fans, not the owners. They need to understand what the journey is and why we are looking to do it.

“If we can capture the hearts and minds of our current fanbase, it will make the transition of changing the demographic to some extent easier.

“It is an old, white man fanbase if I am being really direct. How do we modernise to better our matchday experience and communication with them?

“They don’t use social media, whereas the young fans want to engage. When you speak to our older fans, they think social media is Facebook and Twitter, they don’t know what TikTok or Instagram are.”

Knight added: “We want to move away from volunteers. People associate the word of semi-professional in non-league with amateur.

“I think we can add a layer of professionalism to what we do at Bradford (Park Avenue). We have to be competitive on the pitch too, because ultimately Bradford (Park Avenue) will be judged on their men’s first team results.”