In part 15 of the Richmond Years, City’s bloody departure from the Premier League and Jim Jefferies is heading back to Scotland in time for Christmas.

IT WAS the image that spawned national back-page headlines that at least City were going down fighting.

Blood poured from the cheek of Stuart McCall after the skipper’s very public bust-up with team-mate Andy Myers at Elland Road.

The Bantams were getting humiliated by Leeds and tempers boiled over between the pair as they rowed over the amount of space Harry Kewell kept finding between the midfield and defence.

McCall leant into Myers with his head and the full back responded with a punch that cut open his left cheek before they could be separated.

The flashpoint finished a first half which saw City traipse in 5-1 down. Although both had calmed down before reaching the dressing room, Leeds would score again after the break – they probably could have doubled the tally – as the visitors were in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons.

“It was an awfully embarrassing day,” recalled Geoffrey Richmond later. “It was probably the lowest point of a dire season."

Premier League relegation had been confirmed two weeks earlier with four games to spare after defeat at Everton.

Back-to-back 2-0 home wins over Charlton and Derby had kept their faint survival hopes alive but the dream was extinguished in self-inflicted fashion on Merseyside. Myers headed City into an early lead but Robbie Blake and Benito Carbone both missed penalties as Everton came back for a victory that sent down the visitors.

The Leeds embarrassment aside, though, City’s form over the final two months had offered a glimpse of hope.

Jim Jefferies had been trying to slash the wage bill from £13 million to £5.5 million for the second tier but Richmond remained optimistic.

He did not expect to see Carbone still in claret and amber for the following season. But after Middlesbrough pulled out of a deal, there were no takers for the expensive Italian.

Richmond announced the budget would be upped to accommodate the £2 million a year City were paying for their luxury signing.

The chairman made loud noises about bouncing straight back, winning over an initially critical fans’ forum with his passionate defence of keeping Carbone.

City then came bursting out the traps on their return to the First Division.

Ashley Ward scored twice against his old club as Barnsley were dispatched 4-0 at Valley Parade on opening day. Further wins followed over Portsmouth and Coventry and the Bantams proudly topped the table.

A full house packed in to see them face Burnley, the other side with a 100 per cent start, and Jefferies’ men were edged out 3-2 in a thriller. Despite a 5-1 thrashing of Gillingham a fortnight later, with Carbone at his irresistible best, City’s fortunes quickly fell away.

“We had already peaked and it was all downhill from then on,” admitted Richmond.

Relations between manager and chairman, which had never been great, were becoming more and more strained.

A 1-0 loss on a Thursday night at Nottingham Forest sparked a run of six defeats in seven as the Bantams tumbled down the division.

That game, incidentally, was City’s first appearance on ITV Digital – the company whose £315 million-pound deal with the Football League allowed all clubs, the Bantams especially, to dare to dream.

The alarm bells should have been flashing when only 1,000 viewers tuned in to watch a game that had cost the broadcasters £1.2 million to put on.

City’s problems, at the time, were consigned to on the pitch where things came to a head in the lead-up to Christmas.

There was a public fall-out between McCall and Jefferies when the midfielder was left out for a game at Manchester City.

McCall’s version was that the City boss had said his “legs had gone” and dropped him. Jefferies claimed he had been left out after a couple of days suffering with flu.

Jefferies demanded an apology from the captain and left him out of the squad for another ITV Digital outing at Coventry two days before Christmas. It would prove the Scot’s final night in charge.

Richmond had already sacked assistant manager Billy Brown and Jefferies’ exit would follow on Christmas Eve following a 4-0 drubbing for a team who knew he had gone.

Richmond felt “his heart was never in the job. It was always back in bonny Scotland”. As for City, “we were midway and drifting, slap bang mid-table and going nowhere.”