“THEY are waiting for you in Julian Rhodes’ former office.”

The words from the Valley Parade receptionist sounded very strange – and audible proof of the changing of the guard at Bradford City.

Mark and Julian, Julian and Mark; the combo synonymous with the club’s ownership for so long.

But now it is Edin Rahic and Stefan Rupp, names that may one day become just as familiar. But that is a long way down the road.

As Rahic’s wife and two young sons were being ushered round an introduction tour of the stadium, Mark Lawn was still coming to terms with life beyond the Bantam boardroom.

Rhodes is expected to stay on for the next few weeks to help the easing-in process for the new owners. Lawn has offered to help them in any way.

But he believes they have left a healthy legacy in a club far removed from the one he walked into in 2007 to share the chairman’s workload.

What they have achieved, he believes, is a lesson that Leeds could take on board.

“We came in and wanted to make sure the club survived,” said Lawn. “That’s all it was about at first.

“You’ve got to get your priorities right and I think that’s what has not happened with Leeds United.

“You have to clear the ground first and it’s hard. We had an awful four years.

“If you’re not a real avid fan, you would bale out.”

A thick skin was a must during those more testing times and Lawn got used to the stick.

“Fans are going to call you all the names under the sun, slagging off my family. I got stuff thrown at me like ‘this is the worst time I’ve ever seen in my life’ and you’ve got to take it.

“Those days were hard and I had my kids crying because people were having a go at me.

“But you’ve got to go through all that, clear it out and then start to build. I knew we would turn it round.”

When Lawn came in, City had just been relegated to the fourth tier for the first time in a quarter of a century.

Rupp and Rahic take over in the aftermath of a near-miss in the League One play-offs after another year of progress.

While the roles of both previous owners and Phil Parkinson in that transformation are widely acknowledged, Lawn says there is one key group that deserve the plaudits.

He added: “People say it’s wonderful what we’ve done. To be fair it’s been the players.

“Even Phil can set things up – and he’s been a great manager – but once they cross that white line, it is the players.

“With us going, nobody has turned round and thanked those who have played for the club during that period.

“Of course there are the likes of Hanson, Reid, Darbs, Meredith and McArdle who have stayed right the way through with Phil.

“But there are others like Thommo (Gary Thompson), who did a great job, captain fantastic (Gary) Jones the transition in the midfield, Nahki Wells, even Peter Thorne.

“I think Lee Bullock was a real turning point for us. We had a midfielder who came in as a hard-working pro and when we first took over there weren’t a lot like that.

“They grafted hard and all started to turn it round for Bradford City.”

Hard graft, hard work; it’s been the club mantra from manager and chairman. Put the hard yards in first and the more comfortable ones should follow.

Rahic has already recognised his new acquisition as a “working class club” representing a public who want to see the team earn their rewards.

In Lawn’s eyes, that ethos is the glue that holds players and supporters together. They cannot allow that to come unstuck like others not a million miles away.

“The players get that with the fans and that’s what we can’t lose. It’s that feeling we’re all in it together.

“I don’t want to slag off Leeds all the time but they are the obvious example of what we don’t want to become.

“There’s a gap between the owners and the fans and between the fans and the players. We haven’t got that.

“Right across the board we’re one galvanised football club.

“The fans talk to the players and vice versa, the manager talks to fans, everyone is together. You don’t get that anywhere else.

“There aren’t many clubs where you’d get the chairman having a beer with the fans. But I went to football matches with these lads at the beginning of the 1970s.

“That sort of thing, I hope we don’t lose. I hope Edin will embrace that.

“I’ve told the new owners that if there is anything they want done, I’m here.

“Probably the best thing I can help them with is the understanding between the fans and the club itself.

“They may need a helping hand with that or not – it’s up to them.”