Sheffield United have been told that Bradford City will fight tooth and nail to keep Phil Parkinson at Valley Parade, writes James Shield.
Mark Lawn, joint-chairman of United’s League One rivals, issued his warning as Bramall Lane’s hierarchy began holding talks with candidates hoping to fill the managerial vacancy created by Nigel Clough’s departure earlier this week.
Parkinson is thought to be the preferred choice of at least one United director although Nigel Adkins and former Brentford chief Mark Warburton also boast admirers on the board. Karl Robinson is another name being championed by those working on behalf of co-owners Kevin McCabe and HRH Prince Abdullah Bin Mosaad Abdulaziz Al Saud.
Parkinson, who led City to promotion and into the Capital One Cup final three seasons ago, has a year left on his contract with the West Yorkshire club and could be tempted to explore the possibility of succeeding Clough should an official approach be made.
Lawn confirmed he would be ready to open talks about extending the 47-year-old’s present deal to stave-off any such interest.
“We always look at doing that at the end of a contract term, which has worked well every time for us and for Phil,” Lawn said. “Phil has not come to us and said he wants an extension but if he did, we would sit down tomorrow and talk to him.”
Insisting he does not envisage losing Parkinson ahead of the 2015/16 campaign, Lawn added: “I’ve got to be quite honest, they have got a lot more debt than we have.
“Anybody who takes them on would be working within constraints.
“I can tell you now that the budget we had last year and the budget that Sheffield United had, there was virtually nothing between them. They were very, very similar.”
Although that claim will raise eyebrows among United’s inner-circle, Clough’s successor will have to work to a strict budget following their defeat in the League One play-offs by Swindon Town earlier this month.
However, the sheer volume of applications received since Clough was axed, has reassured United that it remains an attractive post.
Adkins, aged 50, left Reading in December following a 21 month spell in charge while Robinson is preparing for Championship football after leading MK Dons to automatic promotion last term. He has twice been considered for the United job.