YORK City boss Martin Gray is hoping pre-season derby clashes against Bradford City, Barnsley and Leeds United will help swell his playing budget.

The Yorkshire trio all visit Bootham Crescent next month with League One outfits Barnsley and Bradford providing the opposition on Tuesday July, 10 (kick-off 7pm) and Saturday, July 14 (1pm) respectively before Championship neighbours Leeds make the short 30-mile trip on Thursday, July 19 (7pm).

Those three fixtures are the marquee matches from the final set of warm-up games set to be played at the 86-year-old stadium with City’s last friendly home clash against Leeds attracting an attendance of 4,348 three years ago.

That figure, bolstered by 2,313 away fans who saw Marvin McCoy cancel out Sam Byram’s opener in a 1-1 draw, has only been beaten in two games at Bootham Crescent since – the August 2015 contest against Hartlepool when 4,890 made their way through the turnstiles for a 2-1 home loss and what will now be remembered as the last-ever Football League game staged at the ground when 4,525 saw Bristol Rovers defeat the already-relegated Minstermen 4-1 later that campaign.

Gray is now hoping similar bumper gates will aid his team’s efforts during the 2018/19 National League North campaign, reasoning: “If you get that big support from away teams like Barnsley, Leeds and Bradford, it helps towards the playing budget going forward.

“They’ll also provide us with a good test to find out where we are.”

Prior to the three showcase matches, City begin their pre-season programme with a trip to Northern League division one side Shildon on Saturday, July 7 (kick-off 3pm) and conclude their public practice matches with another home game against League Two Grimsby on Saturday, July 21 (kick-off 3pm), before visiting Midland League premier division team Ilkeston Town on Friday, July 27 (kick-off 7pm).

The City manager also highlighted the importance of his squad’s visits to the lower-league pair ahead of the club’s second season of sixth-tier football.

“You need a balance and, when we go to Shildon and Ilkeston, it will be like us playing Leeds,” he reasoned. “They will want to put on a really good show and be competitive and work hard although, without being disrespectful, I will be expecting our fitness levels to be better.”