Mark Lawn has a simple and abrupt message for those who think he is playing games with Bradford City’s future.

City have made it clear in recent weeks that their long-term position is under threat unless something changes at Valley Parade.

Either the rent is cut back to something more in line with playing at the bottom level of league football – or the club will be forced to look at moving away from their 108-year home.

Fans have been here before with the administrations of 2002 and 2004. They can read the signs when the club is approaching the brink.

But there are doubters, plenty of them, who believe that Lawn (pictured below) and Julian Rhodes are simply engaging in another round of high-stakes poker to drag Gordon Gibb to the negotiating table.

Sat in one of the private boxes in the stadium they are struggling to afford, Lawn offers an immediate answer to those accusing City of crying wolf.

“If people know me, really know me, then they’ll know that I don’t sabre rattle,” he said. “I don’t do things like that and never have.

“It’s a serious contention that if we don’t get the rent down then we’ve got to look at other alternatives.

“Hopefully we can work things out and we can reduce what we’re paying so we can carry on here. Everybody wants to stay at Valley Parade.

“But it’s fiscal suicide to stay at this place in this league without working it so that our overheads are lower.

“We know what this place means to this club. It is our home.

“But we’ve also got to make sure that Bradford City is still going tomorrow, the day after and the day after that. That has to be our primary concern.”

The ideal scenario, in City’s eyes, is for Valley Parade’s two landlords to agree to accepting less income while the club are marooned in the bottom division.

Reduce the payments now to increase them again later as and when City start to work their way back up the league pyramid. With the extra income from operating at a higher level, the club would be better placed to fork out for the rising overheads.

Prupim, the owners of the club office block, have signalled a willingness to hear City out. Former chairman Gibb, whose family pension fund bought the stadium, is yet to reply.

Lawn is in no mood for pussy-footing around. He feels the club are banging their head against a brick wall.

“One of the landlords has come back and is talking to us. That’s very helpful.

“But there is no sign from the other one at all yet. We are still waiting to hear back from his solicitors.

“It’s all right him saying that he’s had no direct contact but we’re told to always go through his solicitors so how can we talk to him directly?

“We’re surprised not to have heard anything, though. We spoke to the solicitors about two weeks go.

“I don’t understand any landlord that doesn’t want to talk to the tenant.

“If he’s inflexible and doesn’t want to move the rent at all, then why not just tell us? That way at least we all know where we stand.”

City are maintaining regular contact with the Football League, informing them of every twist and turn. The club know the potential punishment – a guaranteed points penalty – should they look to set up elsewhere.

Odsal is the obvious alternative and Bulls chairman Peter Hood has already welcomed the possibility of a ground-share. In terms of cold, hard cash, a permanent switch to the home of Bradford rugby league could earn City a seven-figure saving.

There is growing talk that they could kick off at a new ground as early as next season.

Lawn, while admitting that the situation needs to be resolved during the summer, is cautious about what happens next.

“We don’t honestly know,” he added. “We’re not going to try crossing bridges before we get to them.

“First of all we want to try to talk to the landlords and hopefully organise something from that.

“But if that fails, then we have to seriously look at other things. There may also be other places elsewhere besides Odsal.

“We just have to make sure what the best option for Bradford City is.”

The cynics in the crowd will also ask why City are pleading poverty at the same time as bringing back Omar Daley, one of the club’s top earners, and agreeing to extend Lewis Hunt’s contract.

A glance at the league table, Lawn insists, left the board with no alternative other than to bite both bullets.

“I was thinking about it about 20-30 minutes into the Southend game. Something had to be done. The simple fact is that we don’t exist if we go out of this league. That’s a definite with the overheads.

“So we want to make sure we’ll be safe and do whatever we can to help towards that.

“We don’t know what is going to happen but we’re not really looking at administration at present. “We also know our obligations to our fans (who have bought season tickets at Christmas) but I can’t say anything more.”

The club and their supporters are strapping themselves in for another uncomfortable ride.