CITY’S pre-season programme is nearly complete as they keep fingers firmly crossed to let fans back into Valley Parade.

The Bantams are set to announce their schedule of friendlies within the next few weeks – and they will include two pilot home games with crowds.

That’s providing, of course, that the government stick to their word and ease the restrictions.

City chief executive Ryan Sparks admitted these are still nervous times for football as the club plan their build-up towards next season.

“This summer is absolutely critical for football in this country,” he said.

“I make no bones about it. If people feel uncomfortable about coming to games, the financial impact on football clubs will be devastating.

“At some point we do have to re-engage in normality or we’re never going to know what it feels like again.

“I want people to feel safe but that needs to come from government as well.

“Any scaremongering tactics that may or may not be used in the next eight to 12 weeks could be fatal for clubs.

“We’re a club that is structured up on its fanbase. Our financial base comes from the supporters.

“We are very fortunate that we try to work that.

“It just makes the job more challenging if you don’t know where you stand and can’t tell people either.”

City are set to announce “six or seven” friendlies and it is understood they will also hold a pre-season training camp outside of England.

They anticipate a 2,000 limit for supporters for the first trial at Valley Parade – and hope to up that figure for the second game.

Sparks added: “We’d like to push the second one higher but it would depend largely on where we are.

“I must admit I’m becoming increasingly frustrated by this.

“I myself have been out for two or three drinks and meals in the last fortnight at various pubs across West Yorkshire.

“There is no social distancing now. Nobody is wearing masks.

“I’m not sure if anyone has got the virus. The cases seem so very low and we’re near to 50 million vaccines.

“I don’t really understand why sport is getting such a hard shake with it. It feels very unfair.

“I think having 2,000 people in the stadium won’t be an issue at all. Whether we could push it to 6,000 for the second one is more of a hope than a fact but you never know.

“We’ve got some decent opposition and we’re happy with the teams we’re playing. It will all work well for us.

“We’re probably only a couple of weeks away from publicly confirming our schedule.

“The ticketing for those games is unclear at the moment but we’ll know more in four or five weeks.”

City are looking to launch season tickets later this month and news that pre-season is already taking shape gives a welcome impression that some hint of normality is returning after a campaign when the Valley Parade turnstiles have remained locked.

“I’d say our preseason schedule is 99 per cent complete,” said Sparks. “It’s something we’ve been talking about since March.

“It’s something we’ve got wrong for the last three seasons.

“It’s probably been done on the back of a fag packet and that’s not being critical of anyone in particular.

“But obviously it’s difficult when you change your managers and many of the people have come into the club too late to get it right.

“It’s been a high priority and we’re very comfortable in terms of who, when, where and how.”

City have also pencilled in a return to some of their non-league neighbours. But that will hinge on how many supporters are permitted to watch.

Sparks said: “Everything is agreed in principle. There are a couple of contracts to sign.

“We’re hoping to get round to some of our local friends for the first time in a while.

“We like to support the clubs around us. They need us and we need them.

“I’m hoping we can do that but like last season, if there is an issue with supporters being in stadiums, then we’ll have to see.

“For example, say Eccleshill United could only have 25 per cent capacity, I would imagine they wouldn’t want to play the game because it potentially isn’t viable for them.

“We’re at the point of contracts being agreed, which is pretty standard at this time of the year.

“Our club secretary Mark Harrison is going to be very busy. But it’s welcomed because last summer was very strange.

“The club was just existing due to the pandemic. We’re now starting to talk about normal football club things again which I find quite exciting.”