Jonathan Collura On His Involvement With Bradford (Park Avenue)

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Yesterday, the club announced that owner Gareth Roberts has nominated Jonathan Collura for the role of Director at Bradford (Park Avenue). 

The nomination came as part of a recent restructuring, which has seen a community interest company owned by Gareth Roberts become the new ownership vehicle.

Jonathan introduced himself to supporters of the club on Saturday, featuring on the panel during the open forum at the Horsfall Stadium.

Before watching Bradford take on Kidderminster Harriers, the prospective director sat down with us to discuss everything from his background to his vision for the club:

Football is a sport that clearly runs through Jonathan’s veins and he discussed how his love for the game was ignited by Crystal Palace and the introduction of the internet:

“I’m a lifelong fan of the English game. When I went to college in 1994, I was an avid Crystal Palace fan. In that year, the internet came online and my love of the game grew because of all the information that was available. While in college, I founded one of the first Crystal Palace websites, which I ran from Lincoln, Nebraska. We had international supporters, we had match reports and video clips, but when the game expanded, we were wiped out quickly! It was fun though. I actually wrote for non-league programmes as well and was published by several clubs whilst writing about my experiences as a supporter in America.”

Jonathan brings a wealth of experience to the Horsfall Stadium, having already been involved with clubs in the United States and one of Bradford’s Vanarama National League North rivals:

“In 2015, I got the opportunity to be a partner in an English football club. That club was Alfreton Town. They have a phenomenal chairman in Wayne Bradley, I learned a lot from him in the time I spent there. I eventually left to focus on doing my own things back in the US. I was a partner in a club in Napa Valley, California and then in January 2018, I launched Bugeaters Football Club. Bugeaters are based in my home community of Nebraska. Bugeaters is a nickname for native Nebraskans, when people see the name they either get it or think we’re insane! 

“The team began playing in the 2018 season and we’re currently examining leagues for 2019, but it’s been a phenomenal run. We had a massive launch and sold tens of thousands dollars worth of merchandise.”

He then discussed how he came to be involved with Bradford, before outlining his plans and ambitions:

“I’ve known Gareth Roberts for some time. I spoke to Gareth about his involvement with Bradford (Park Avenue) back in 2015, when I was at Alfreton. I kept in touch and we discussed ideas together, and I visited the Horsfall in 2016. Over the last twelve months, we’ve had deeper discussions about things that I can help him with. My interest stems from my background as an entrepreneur and my success with my own companies, as well as my passion for the game and thoughts on innovation and marketing.

“I’m a director elect, pending FA approval. This is to help Gareth focus on two things. One is sustainability, and the second is the community. The club, as it stands today, is fantastic on the pitch but needs some help off it. For the club to endure the next fifty years, we need to set the path for that today. A club like this has a decent fanbase but in today’s digital era, it’s not just about the fans at the match, it’s also about the outreach that you have. Bugeaters are an example of that as not only do the club have fans in Nebraska, it has fans internationally. We have fans here in England, who actually watch live streams of our matches. Boosting the social media and digital side of things is vital in establishing the brand. Bradford (Park Avenue) have an absolutely amazing history and now it’s time to lay the foundations for the next fifty years. We need to establish a brand and an identity.

“The Horsfall College of Sport is something that I’ve worked with Gareth on and the goal there is to get to 100 students. We currently have 26 but we think we can reach 60-90 in the next season and give opportunites to people in the community. At some point, we will have a player that comes through the Horsfall College of Sport and plays league football for the first-team side. That’s going to be something very special. The goal here is to make people say that there is something special going on at Bradford (Park Avenue).

“Regarding the Bradford Bulls involvement, we realised that there is a management team down the road that has been very successful both on and off the pitch and we need some infrastructure here. We have Damian Irvine, who has been a football executive in the EFL and has very innovative ideas. I’ve spent some time getting to know him and have really enjoyed speaking with him in discussions. First and foremost, we need to improve the image of Bradford (Park Avenue). We need to give it a brand and unique identity because it has one but people in the community don’t know it exists. The Bulls will be helping us with infrastructure and ways to increase attendances and awareness. They’ll be helping with the overall function of the club so that we have a sustainable model. Prior to Gareth’s involvement, the club had financial issues and Gareth has helped to fill that gap but in a situation like this, you need to build sustainability instead of continually funding a loss.

“Mark Bower is a tremendous manager who has done amazing things for the team on the pitch. Today, we have a game between 2nd and 3rd in the league at the Horsfall and that doesn’t happen by chance. Gareth has committed to funding his budget and has done a tremendous job. 

“I want to tell the Bradford (Park Avenue) story. The club has history with every single one of its fans. Let’s sit them down, let’s interview them. Let’s have those stories told in a documentary so that you’re recording the club’s history. I see a lot of pictures that celebrate the history and the club’s icons but what about the recent history? What about the fans that are here today? Why are they here? They choose to be here. They choose to be here because they have a connection with the club so let’s tell their stories. If you read anything about Bugeaters, you’ll find that I built the club on a sustainability, community model. We’re going to see ties between Bradford (Park Avenue) and other clubs. With Bugeaters, and with teams around here. I see other teams signing development deals and wonder, why aren’t we doing that? We can benefit from one another.”