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CITY TO ENTER INTO FINAL THIRD DEVELOPMENT LEAGUE

20 May 2015

The Bantams will be entering a side into next season's Final Third Development League.

The reserves competition will give City the opportunity to field some of their younger professionals and apprentices in further competitive fixtures. 

Members of the Richmond International Academic & Soccer Academy will also feature in fixtures as well after the club agreed a deal which means RIASA will oversee the running of City's reserves for the 2015/2016 season.

The deal further extends City's link with the RIASA programme, which is led by former City player Mark Ellis.

The RIASA programme helps players from North America receive educational support while also giving them an opportunity to further their football careers in countries like England.

Speaking about the agreement, City joint-chairman Mark Lawn said: "When you look at the quality of players Mark Ellis has brought to us, both through RIASA and his own scouting techniques, i.e. James Hanson and Nahki Wells, I think it was clear that we really needed to look at what is coming in from America.

"We want to look out in that pond because currently there isn't a lot of people out there fishing in that particular pond. 

"The contacts RIASA have stretches right throughout the United States, and we are hopeful that they can bring some quality players across with them. It would then be up to us to see if we can develop them."

Ellis himself added: "Following Bradford City closely as I do, I could see that the club didn't currently have a reserve side so I made a presentation to the board to say that we (RIASA) would run a team for them.

"We will pick up the costs and organise everything, it won't cost the club anything. It will also give some of the club's younger players a chance to play in full matches .

"Phil (Parkinson) can, of course, use the matches to give some of his more senior squad players a game as well if he wishes.

"From our point of view, it gives our better players a chance to impress and to play in good stadiums against professional clubs. It is great experience for them.

"We have a big scouting network right across America and I go out there myself at least five times a year. Any players we spot who we feel are good enough, we will obviously be putting them Bradford's way.

"We already have some players on our radar who we are monitoring."

Pictured with Mark Ellis and Mark Lawn are City director Roger Owen (central) and Dawn Craven, RIASA's Head of Operations (right)

City's involvement in reserve team football next season comes after a two-season absence from the competition.

The Bantams' previous official reserve fixture came back in April 2013 against Burton Albion at Farsley's Throstle's Nest. City ran out 6-2 winners that day with Oliver McBurnie - a first year apprentice at the time - coming off the bench to score the fifth.

The club will confirm their 2015/2016 Final Third Development League fixtures to supporters when they are officially announced.

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