The Fan Engagement Pod


Bradford City's Ryan Sparks on communicating difficult decisions & building for the future

Season 1, Ep. 59

Welcome to the Fan Engagement Chat, the episode of the Fan Engagement Pod where we hear about someone’s approach to Fan Engagement. 

This one’s with Ryan Sparks, CEO of Bradford City AFC

We’d already interviewed him back in Episode 11, but decided to have a second chat with Ryan after he was appointed as the youngest CEO in the country. He was appointed in November 2020, and this interview was done in March 2021.

Ryan's background is in Rugby League, having worked for both Featherstone Rovers and city neighbours Bradford Bulls previously. As a result, Ryan learned his trade in an arguably much tougher environment where techniques of persuasion of fans are more important to get right.

He’s a really good listen from someone I like and admire for his straight-dealing, honesty, but sensitivity to the responsibility he’s got. He gives us great insight into the work he’d undertaken to both steady the ship, and then build for the coming years. His Twitter profile and LinkedIn page are worth having a look at for a record of the progress he’s made. Since then we also saw Bradford’s Fan Engagement rating climb massively thanks to Ryan’s work and leadership in the area, and you can find out more on https://fanengagement - where you can find out even more about how your club did. You can also register for free for the Fan Engagement Hub if you want to access more detailed data and case studies from the 2019/2020 Index.

We’re taking a break for the whole of August, and we’ll be back with a new episode of the Fan Engagement Chat on the 7th September, and new episodes of Bas Chat and did they ask the Fans too. Keep an ear out!

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Enjoy the show.

More Episodes


Supporter Liaison Officer: Not just an add-on. Stuart Dykes from SD Europe

Season 1, Ep. 61
Episode 61 is with Stuart Dykes from SD Europe’s Supporter Liaison (SLO) Project. SD Europe is one part of the legacy of Supporters Direct, and works across Europe with clubs, fans, leagues and federations on how to implement the role. Go to for more.The SLO role was first seen in German football, but can now be seen across all of UEFA’s member associations, including in men’s professional football in England in the top-four divisions.From the perspective of us at Think Fan Engagement, the SLO role has never come even close to its full potential, often hampered by the absence of enough guidance from the leagues as to how to make the role work. In many clubs it’s something of an afterthought, often bolted onto another, existing role, instead of being able to play its proper role of ensuring that fans are thought about in all the decisions a club makes.Stuart really is a mine of information and expertise on the subject. Anyone hoping to create an effective SLO role should listen to this episode.You can find out more about our work at Register for free and you get access to the Fan Engagement Hub, with more detailed data and case studies from the 2018/2019 and 2019/2020 Fan Engagement Indexes.By the way, from now on, we’ll be publishing one edition a week each Tuesday, including the Fan Engagement Chat, Bas Chat, with Bas Schnater, and Did They Ask The Fans, with Tim Crow.Please like, subscribe and share. It really does help our visibility.