LONDON: A new book has linked the chairman of Bradford City at the time of the Valley Parade disaster which killed 56 fans with at least eight other local fires.

Martin Fletcher, who survived the fire but lost three generations of his family in the fire, has made the claim in Fifty-six – The Story of the Bradford Fire, which is being serialised by The Guardian.

His brother Andrew, 11, was the youngest victim while father John, 34, uncle Peter, 32, and grandfather Eddie, 63, all died in the blaze.

The book pinpoints other fires at business premises either owned by or connected to Stafford Heginbotham, the chairman of Bradford City at the time of the fire. It says the fires led to significant insurance claims.

Heginbotham died in 1995 aged 61.

Mr Fletcher has said that his determination to look further into the disaster comes from his mother telling him when he was 12 that she did not believe the worst fire disaster in the history of English football had not been an accident.

The fire erupted just before half-time at a league match on Saturday, May 11, 1985 against Lincoln City. The ground was packed with fans celebtrating the presentation of the trophy for winning the Third Divsion trophy. Apart from the 56 deaths another 265 fans were injured.

An inquest, led by Mr Justice Popplewell, recorded verdicts of death by misadventure with the cause thought to be a thrown-away cigarette or match.

Warnings had been issued previously about safety risks of Valley Parade including a build-up of litter just below the seats in the old wooden stand which was due for demolition at the season’s end.

The match against Lincoln City had started in a celebratory atmosphere, with the home-team receiving the Football League Third Division trophy.