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John Smith’s stadium in Huddersfield settles ownership and development plans

Huddersfield Town, Huddersfield Giants, Kirklees Council and Kirklees Stadium Development Ltd (KSDL) have signed a new agreement which safeguards the future of their unique collaboration at the John Smith’s stadium.

This historic agreement confirms the founding principles of three-way partnership and joint ownership of the stadium complex, and paves the way for a major new leisure development with the stadium at its heart.

The agreement ensures the transfer of KSDL shares to HTAFC, returning the ownership of the company to 40:40:20 (HTAFC, Kirklees Council, and Giants respectively) safeguards the rights of both clubs reaffirms that the stadium is a community asset commits the partners to work together to promote its commercial success ensures that the success of the stadium will be used to strengthen the financial security of both clubs.

The agreement also puts the full weight of the partners behind the exciting plans for HDOne, the major leisure development on the stadium site which is set to bring millions of pounds of new investment and hundreds of new jobs into the local economy.

Sir John Harman, chairman of KSDL, welcomed the agreement:

Everyone involved with the partnership deserves great credit for the spirit in which they have come together, put narrow self-interest aside and seen the wider benefits of collaboration. This partnership opens significant new commercial opportunities that would not otherwise be on the table. Both clubs are committed to being financially responsible and sustainable and this agreement will certainly help to underpin their future viability

It’s well known that there has been a dispute over the ownership of KSDL in recent years. Confidentiality has obviously had to be the watchword during prolonged negotiations and perhaps inevitably there has been public speculation as to the motives of the parties, but I can say now that both owners and the Council have acted throughout with care and propriety in their wish to ensure that their club’s interests, and the public interest, are protected. Dean Hoyle continues to make a significant personal financial commitment to take Huddersfield Town forward and part of that has been his determination to secure the club’s on-going stake in its home stadium. Ken Davy took on the onerous task of rescuing Huddersfield Town from administration in 2004 and putting the club back on a viable footing at considerable personal cost, at the same time as building up the Giants.

What is less well known is that Dean and Ken, both determined to ensure the success of their own club, have also shown great vision in finding a basis for this agreement, and Kirklees Council has had an important role in enabling and encouraging them to do so. There have been numerous difficulties but they have been overcome. The Council as part owner has also played a vital role in reinforcing the spirit of partnership on which the stadium was built – this is a community stadium and we all want to see it contribute fully to the life and economy of the district.

As part of the agreement, Dean Hoyle will pay £2m to redeem Ken Davy’s personal loans to Huddersfield Town made in the period after he ceased to be the majority share holder of the Football Club. The 40 shares will be transferred for a nominal value of £1.