In part 11 of the Richmond Years, City break the bank with Benito Carbone to embark on the infamous “six weeks of madness".

HAD Geoffrey Richmond retired in the summer of 2000, his record at Valley Parade would have been beyond reproach.

In his own words, he would probably have gone on to be lord mayor of the city – overlooking his supporters from Richmond Square.

And yet, he would have bowed out with a sense of regret; a nagging feeling that there was more still to be achieved.

Richmond’s rule had delivered Premier League football, just as he had promised on arrival, and the most dramatic of survival with a last-day win over Liverpool.

But the ruthlessly-ambitious chairman still felt there was another chapter in this outrageous mission he had begun six years before.

Richmond did not believe the same group of players that had kept City afloat could beat the odds a second time. The team had stayed up with 36 points – and he felt they had “overachieved” to reach that many.

The squad, in his eyes, needed shaking up and it was time to show some ambition.

Richmond was under no pressure from the supporters to think big. Paul Jewell’s unexpected departure to be replaced by the unproven Chris Hutchings hardly pointed to the summer splurge that would follow.

But the chairman had an itch that wanted scratching and it began with Teletext.

Readers of a certain age will not remember the pre-social media days when the latest news and sport was found by trawling pages of text on TV.

Richmond was a huge fan. The screen in the corner of his office at Valley Parade was permanently tuned to the football information for any snippets or gossip.

And there, one afternoon, it stared out at him. Benito Carbone was being linked with Leicester.

Benito Carbone, the Italian maverick, was available. Richmond’s mind went into overdrive.

He recalled Carbone’s “virtuoso” display for Sheffield Wednesday against City the previous season – and couldn’t resist picking up the phone to the manager’s room.

“You busy Chris? I’ve just had a crazy idea,” he said. “If you’re not interested, tell me straight away and I won’t make the next calls I’m already planning.”

Hutchings was keen but inevitably sceptical about their chances. But Richmond had the bit between his teeth.

Contact was made with Italian barrister Giovanni Branchini, one of Carbone’s representatives, who said he was training in the mountains at the time but had no club fixed up.

Carbone’s preference was to play in Italy but Branchini would ask the question on City’s behalf.

Richmond got a call back to say Carbone would be prepared to sit down for a chat in Milan. He had a foot in the door.

Hutchings, Richmond and chief executive Shaun Harvey booked into a swish hotel. Staring out the window at the beautiful people strolling around one of Europe’s fashion capitals, the chairman’s mind wandered to how far City had come since his first game against Hartlepool.

They met Carbone and spoke football, Hutchings underlining the role he felt the Italian could play. Carbone revealed how disillusioned he had become at Aston Villa and Sheffield Wednesday but was still keen on English football.

Back at the hotel, Richmond and Harvey began the number crunching with Carbone’s agent. Harvey’s mobile was ringing constantly as the news broke back home of City’s ambitious transfer target.

The Bantam contingent wanted an answer before they flew back in the morning.

Shortly after midnight, they got one – it was a no. The £30,000 a week offer on the table was not considered enough for someone with “star status”.

After half an hour’s further discussion, Richmond had upped it to £40,000 on a four-year deal – the equivalent of signing Carbone for £8 million.

He also threw in four first-class flights home to Italy per year and a £750,000 house.

Richmond’s phone rang again at 1.30am with a three-word message. “Yes, we accept”.

As the initial euphoria died down, he felt comfortable with a transaction that blew anything City had done previously completely out the water. It was good business, after all.

Richmond felt they were signing a saleable asset – in the event of the worst-case scenario of relegation, he saw a safety net to cushion the fall. Someone would surely take Carbone off their hands.

City invited fans to come along to the press conference to unveil their headline capture.

The Bantams Bar, with its 600 capacity, was set aside. But there wasn’t room to breathe.

Richmond joked that it felt like “Beatlemania” – but the atmosphere immediately soured when the opening questions jumped in on Carbone’s previously questionable attitude.

The fans loudly defended their new hero and battle commenced. Somebody from TV told Richmond that it was the best press conference they had ever shown live.