CITY insist they are ready to throw open their gates to fans again – but are not banking on an imminent return.

The government are considering plans to allow supporters back at matches, possibly by the end of the year.

There are suggestions that areas under tier one restrictions, the lowest COVID measures, could welcome back some fans after the current national lockdown ends on December 2.

If that is the case, it is unlikely Valley Parade would be considered because of Bradford’s higher ranking prior to the latest safety precautions.

The Bantams had prepared the stadium in readiness for the original October return date before those plans were put on hold.

And they are in position to move quickly if and when football fans are finally given the green light.

But director of communications and commercial Ryan Sparks is not expecting an early call.

“If we had a fortnight to a month’s notice that there was a chance, we could ensure this place is normal,” he said.

“We’ve done everything we can. We’ve got things in place with the council and in the stadium.

“It’s COVID-safe, we are ready for that. There are a few loose ends like caterers, pouring rights etc but we’ve got contracts lined up on the table with all kinds of people ready to move forward and sign.

“There are obviously some green shoots with the talk of a vaccine creating a lot of positivity.

“We are hopeful there is a chance that fans can see something this season. That would be fantastic.

“But I think there’s a long way to go before the government open the floodgates as such.

“From a financial perspective, we are certainly not preparing for anything to change because that would be very naïve and optimistic. It would probably cost us in the end.”

The #letfansin campaign on social media continues to pressure the authorities into a decision and ministers recently discussed a national petition in Parliament.

Culture secretary Oliver Dowden held further talks with football chiefs on Tuesday when the severe financial implications of playing without fans was raised once more.

Sparks added: “It’s a strange industry. We’re a leisure activity a bit like hospitality, but while they are shut down so to speak we can’t access the support they will be able to in the future.

“In the same way, and other clubs are right to say so, we are running at full operation now.

“From a wage-perspective, we obviously can’t remove anyone from the playing squad, management or backroom staff. But our income is very low.

“That creates issues and that’s where government have to listen. This is a very difficult position to be in and you are constantly looking over your shoulder.

“We’ve not made any redundancies here and we’re doing all we can to ensure that stays the case.

“But as I’ve said several times, this cannot go on forever. Next season we have to be in a position of normality or you have to worry about the future of clubs as a whole.

“At the minute, we think we can work our way through this.

“But it would be extremely concerning if we had to do it all again – not just for us but for all clubs.”

The FA Cup has provided a welcome financial boost for City.

They received £32,500 in TV money as well as the £16,972 prize for beating non-league Tonbridge Angels in the first round.

A further £25,500 is up for grabs for the winner of next Saturday’s home tie against Oldham on top of both clubs receiving £12,500 for coverage on the BBC’s digital platforms.

Sparks said: “The FA Cup has become very important to us. That could become a great income stream if we progress.

“The TV elements of that have been very beneficial so we’re quite grateful to the BBC and BT for the extra income.

“The hardest thing with this whole situation is that you can’t predict where you are going to be at.

“There are always going to be a number of variables that you can’t control but usually you’ve got a pretty good grasp of it. This one’s a bit tougher.

“I can see some lines of positivity. But in the same breath it would be wrong of us to think that everything will be okay by January or February and then forecast the budget as if that is going to happen.”