Football programmes have traditionally been a staple of the match day experience, historically a collectable for many supporters. At Valley Parade, programmes have been produced for first-team fixtures since 1909 and the sale of single sheet team cards dates back even further. This season the match day magazine celebrates the rich heritage of old programmes from earlier years and today’s issue is based on the design from 1977/1978 when we were rivals with Carlisle United in Division Three.
Following promotion to Division Three in 1977 the club decided that it needed to modernise the design of its programme and invited supporters to contribute suggestions. What was introduced represented a radical new look with a major shift in layout based around the inclusion of recent action photographs. By today’s standards the innovations were primitive but nonetheless they represented a major overhaul for the Bradford City programme.
As a matter of necessity, during the second half of the 1970s the club became more adventurous in seeking new money-making opportunities which culminated in the launch of its successful lottery operation in 1978. The programme was identified as a source of advertising revenue and it was this that encouraged the redesign to include visually impactful adverts.
The 1970s was an age of inflation and this was reflected in the upward movement of the price of the programme. From a cover price of 5p (equivalent to one shilling) in 1973 it had been increased to 10p in 1974 and then 12p in 1975. In 1977 the price went up by 25% from 12p to the princely sum of 15p. Those price rises continued, to 20p in 1978 and then 30p in 1980.
The reader could be forgiven that despite cosmetic changes in design, the programme represented poor value for money. In 1977 the size of the programme remained sixteen pages but the editorial content was diminished. In 1978, probably to justify another price increase the size of the programme was further increased to twenty pages but by 1979 it was reduced back to sixteen pages whilst the price remained 20p.
The standard of the Bradford City programme in this era compared unfavourably with those of other lower division clubs and limited effort was committed to its production. Although price increases generated more income, by 1981/82 this amounted to only £9,611, equivalent to less than 2.5% of the club’s total revenue. Nevertheless, the readership remained relatively high, averaging between one in three and one in four spectators at Valley Parade and between 1975/76 and 1981/82 annual average match day sales of the programme fluctuated in the range 1,100 – 1,700.
The menus above provide links to features written by myself in the BCAFC programme during previous seasons.