JULIAN Rhodes has identified a suitable successor to take over as City’s chief executive this season.

Owner Stefan Rupp has asked him to hang on for now and Rhodes is confident it will be a “smooth transition”.

And he also insists that, despite all that is currently going on, the club he will hand over are on much more solid financial ground than many around them.

As the lower-league landscape continues to be shaken, Rhodes believes the Bantams are in a better position to survive because of the self-sustaining policy that has been their model for so long.

Rhodes opened the club’s accounts for the last decade to public scrutiny this week – as much to answer the “conspiracy theories” as anything else.

“To be honest, never mind having nothing to hide, I’m very proud of what we’ve done from where we were,” he said, referring to the darkest days of City’s two administrations.

“That’s why I was so upset to see it all being undone quite spectacularly when I came back in 2018.

“I’m still big mates with Phil (Parkinson) because I’ve got so much admiration for what he did for us. But it wasn’t just that – we were all in it together.

“People bought in to the ticket policy with the big crowds and the atmosphere generated.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Julian Rhodes and Mark Lawn, left, sold City to Stefan Rupp and Edin Rahic in 2016Julian Rhodes and Mark Lawn, left, sold City to Stefan Rupp and Edin Rahic in 2016

“We went from a club on its knees to one that was knocking on the door of the Championship against others who were spending so much more. None of them were living within their means.

“Despite losing the best part of £2 million (in 2018-2019), we’ve still made £1 million over the last 10 or 11 years.

“Find me any other clubs who’ve had a surplus in that time and yet we were constantly improving year on year (up until the 2017 play-off final).

“There’s no reason why that can’t happen again. This season is tough for everybody but I think we’re in a better position than most.”

Rhodes is not on social media but has heard the accusations of City’s “small-firm mentality” and lacking the “ambition” to spend more to accumulate.

Speaking exclusively to the Telegraph & Argus, he strongly defended the club’s approach.

All ambition means is they expect the owner of a football club to chuck their own money at it.

“It’s disappointing when you get the know-it-alls passing negative comments constantly.

“All ambition means is they expect the owner of a football club to chuck their own money at it.

“In whatever walks of life does that work? Imagine being chief executive of a FTSE100 company and every month you’re telling the shareholders they have to put some more money in.

“Why does football have to be different? It’s ironic that it’s taken a worldwide pandemic for the rest of football to suggest it might be a good thing if we could all at the very least break even.

“There are a lot of League One and Two clubs where the owners have blown 10s of millions – and for what? They will never get that back.

“I was speaking to a chief exec of a League Two club about this the other day. He said they’d be fine because the chairman has just put in a few million quid.

“That’s the mentality but you can’t expect to do it every year.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Phil Parkinson with the League Two play-off winners trophy in 2013Phil Parkinson with the League Two play-off winners trophy in 2013

Having sold to Rupp and Edin Rahic in 2016, Rhodes returned to Valley Parade on a rescue mission in November 2018. The financial horror left by Rahic’s ruinous reign meant it was never going to be a short-term fix.

“I was only supposed to be coming back for a few months and then I realised the situation was worse than I thought,” he added.

“I agreed to stay on for another season and then, lo and behold, we have a worldwide pandemic.

“But I do feel we’re not in a bad position and I have got somebody lined up to take over who I think will be suitable.

“Stefan has just asked that doesn’t happen in the short term but we do have a plan in place.

“I’m not promising anything on the pitch because it’s been tough to get through and we’ve had to be prudent like everybody else at the moment.

“We need to get through this season financially okay and then we can start to build again. But obviously it won’t be with me.”

City’s financial figures, posted by business turnaround specialist John Dewhirst, reveal a net profit of £1.2 million in the last financial year – thanks to the add-on clauses from Oli McBurnie’s move from Swansea to Sheffield United.

They had previously lost £1.9 million in 2019 as Rahic whacked up the wage bill in a disastrous recruitment spree that ended in relegation back to League Two – a shortfall that had to be covered by loans from Rupp.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Oli McBurnie's sale has earned City £3.3 million in total after add-on clausesOli McBurnie's sale has earned City £3.3 million in total after add-on clauses

“You’ve got to given Stefan credit,” said Rhodes. “I know people will argue he should have been more hands-on or whatever.

“But we had that bad period which started from when we lost at Wembley in 2017. We lost the best part of £2 million and Stefan put in an interest-free loan to cover it.

“He couldn’t do much more than that.”

Talk of future contracts – Stuart McCall’s own deal is up at the end of the season as well as players such as Connor Wood – remains on hold for now. Those discussions, when they do take place, are unlikely to involve Rhodes.

But he is hopeful that City can pick their way through the financial turmoil created by COVID.

“I think we’re going to be better placed.

“We’ll carry on in the self-sustaining manner that we’ve done. That might not be ‘sexy’ or ambitious as people say.

“But as we’ve proved before it’s possible to start progressing under those circumstances.

“Take League One for example, where the salary cap now is £2.5 million. When we were getting in the play-offs, our wages were only a little more.

“Yet we were competing against teams who were spending £10 million. The three teams who got promoted the year Stuart took over and we got to the play-off final were all around that figure.

“We do have a history of being able to do that.

“Obviously, we have to get out of League Two at some point and hopefully that will happen. I’m not necessarily saying this season but hopefully.

“But I just think we’ll be in a better position than a lot of clubs around us.”