The final part of the review
Yesterday marked the start of the eighth year of Dean Hoyle at Huddersfield Town.
Today, in part three of the series, we look at how the Club has changed since 2008, covering the key developments that have taken place.
DEVELOPMENTS IN THE 'NEW ERA'
The year ending 31 May 2010 was the first full year of the ‘New Era’ at the Club. Dean Hoyle became 70% majority shareholder on 1 June 2009 and then 100% shareholder on 16 February 2010, taking over from the previous Chairman and owner Ken Davy, who was appointed Honorary Life President at the same time.
During early 2009 the Club appointed a Chief Executive; Nigel Clibbens joined the Board. In June 2009 the existing board was changed with directors from the Ken Davy regime leaving.
Sean Jarvis joined as Commercial Director and Ann Hough become Operations Director. Ross Wilson later joined the Club as Head of Football Operations in August 2012.
He moved onto the Board in January 2014. He then left in March 2015 to join Premier League Southampton.
Over the years the stability of the Board, which is in contrast to other clubs, has brought consistency, clear priorities and strong leadership as it aims to improve efficiency and effectiveness in all areas of the Club.
Former Chairman David Taylor has also been named the Club's Life President.
Strategy and plans
The Board restructure was catalyst for the Club to develop and lay down its long term strategy and plan for the ‘New Era’. Central to this are five key strategic objectives incorporated into the Club’s mission statement:
..“working together to be a successful, sustainable and financially viable football club, that we can all take pride in”..
At the same time the Club set in stone 10 core values, which remain at the heart of everything the Club does:
..“honesty.... integrity.... trust.... character.... commitment.... success.... value....quality.... pride.... respect”..
That has meant reaching out to supporters via forums, Q&As, social media and more now through the ‘All Together Town’ initiative. The Club has come to work closely with the local community, especially through the support for The Yorkshire Air Ambulance.
The aim is to be successful by over-achieving compared with the Club’s rivals, being smarter and more effective, making the most of what we have and playing to strengths.
Sustainability. Under Dean Hoyle the Board has adopted a very commercial approach, being innovative and risk taking, while remaining focused on lowest cost wherever possible to achieving the best value for money.
At all times, football and winning football matches remains our clear and top priority.
That doesn’t stop the Club being first class off the field and in the community. There is no conflict between these objectives.
Viability. The Club has been active in the development, recruitment and trading of players to improve performance on the field and earn profits on sale to reinvest and recycle. Town continues to support Financial Fair Play (FFP) and wage control.
Pride. The Club’s work with supporters and the Community is respected widely and Huddersfield Town has grown to become a club at the heart of its community. The Club strives to make a difference and with the Town Foundation, the ‘Keep It Up’ campaign and work via the Zone, Town has had some good achievements and won awards inside and outside football.
With the recruitment of Ross Wilson as the first Head of Football Operations in the summer of 2012, Town was able to establish a Football Operations Plan which links with the overall Club Strategy, our funding and the individual business plans. The final piece of that jigsaw is the Academy Performance Plan, which is a fundamental requirement of operating with Academy status. These football plans deal with the playing philosophy of Town and the way the Club develops players through having pathways to success.
The Club has continually strived to improve its position and concentrate efforts on achieving on the field football success in moving up the Championship to challenge and win promotion to the Premier League.
From 2010, the Club reorganised its internal structure. Town has five Strategic Activities, namely:
- Football - this is the top priority and comprises professional football on the field and all supporting football operations such as recruitment, analytics, sports science and medical
- Academy - incorporating football player development from aged eight to 21 within the Elite Player Performance Plan as a Category 2 football club
- Business - comprising departmental activities of Commercial, Match day, Retail, PPG Canalside, Lotteries and Promotions
- Community – the Supporter Partnerships department, working closely with Town Foundation – the Club’s connected charity - and Huddersfield Community Trust, which undertakes the Football League community programmes on a contracted-out basis
- Club - four departmental teams; Communications, Finance, Marketing and head office operations, which work and support the other Strategic Areas
All the departments within the Strategic Activities operate within a united ‘One Club’ approach to maximise the Club's efficiency and effectiveness.
Over the years, the Club has come to use common themes, language and messages in everything it does.
Over the past seven years, professional football in the Championship has shown intense rivalry. The impact of the Premier League and willingness of Championship owners to inject ever-increasing amounts of cash into their clubs is huge. Most clubs suffer very heavy losses subsidised by their owners. Championship clubs are currently around £4bn in debt. Many clubs benefit from receiving significant and increased ‘parachute payments’ from the Premier League.
Back in 2008, parachutes were around £25m. Now they are £48m and set to rise further. The amount will rise again with the dilution of Financial Fair Play rules and new TV deals.
A large number of Town’s competitors are far bigger than us in scale and have ability to grow in the medium term. As a result, financial resources are increasingly polarised in the division, which impacts on the financial performance and the ability to pay, retain and recruit football players and staff, which impacts upon on the field football activities.
The Club cannot afford to compete without shareholder support. Dean Hoyle has provided overwhelming levels of financial support, but just as importantly has played a major part in leading and participating together in the Club’s initiatives. Back in 2007/08, the Club’s player budget was £1.9m; last year it was nearly £11m.
In this context, realistic expectations, financial prudence and restraint, coupled with strong management on and off the field, have seen the Club move forward in a stable, consistent fashion. Whilst it may be slower progress than we would like, it is in a fashion which fits with the Club.
Turning to each area, we can see the changes and developments - some of which are remarkable.
In February 2009 the Club’s Academy Manager for over 20 years, Gerry Murphy, stepped down.
Gerry has served the Club magnificently over the years and was instrumental in creation of the Academy and then progressing scholars, many of whom represented the Club at First Team level and gained international honours. He also stepped in to manage the First Team as caretaker on three very successful occasions.
He was succeeded by Graham Mitchell, a former Huddersfield Town player who had been his assistant for a number of years.
Mark Lillis took over from Graham Mitchell as the Club faced the challenge of new regulations and the Elite Player Performance Plan.
Sir Patrick Stewart has also become the Honourary President of the Huddersfield Town Academy:
Training and Academy facilities have seen a total revolution from 2008, when the Club operated from Storthes Hall, to the superb facilities now developed at PPG Canalside
In 2013/14, the Club’s Under-18 age group won the U18 Professional Development League 2 North division and subsequently the end of season Play-Offs to win that competition nationally.
In the FA Youth Cup, the Under-18 age group also progressed to its best showing for 40 years after beating Manchester United and West Bromwich Albion; both Category 1 Academies.
At the same time our U21 group won its U21 Professional Development League 2 North division before losing in the Play-Offs.
The sale of Jack Hunt for £1.5m was the first fee received for an Academy player since 2010/11, the first significant fee for any Academy player in the ‘New Era’ and the highest since the professional Academy setup began in 2008.
This season, both the Under-18s and Under-21s have continued to perform well and win lots of games. The challenge, as always, is for these players to break through as Championship players and higher.
The commercial team under Sean Jarvis has been a real success story. Income has grown from just £0.7m in 2007/08 to £1.6m in 2013/14. Key to this has been the Commercial Partners programme. Starting in 2009, the Club now has over 80 official partners and is fast approaching the magic 100 of those businesses ‘on our side’.
Boxes and hospitality have become sought after and fully sold.
The Promotions and lottery team has celebrated raising £2m for the Academy:
The Blue & White Foundation continues to have over 2,000 members.
Retail income has doubled in the ‘New Era’ with the exit from old Sporting Pride Shop in Huddersfield and the recent opening of another in the Packhorse Centre, combined with huge growth in online sales at www.htafcmegastore.com.
The Ticket Office in the ‘New Era’ has seen the introduction of e-ticketing and ‘print at home’. This came after the introduction of electronic access controls and the move from Season Ticket books to Cards:
Town also launched ‘Take 10’, a discounted ticket membership scheme for adults, over 60s and full-time students
The Family Value ticket was launched in 2014, giving big savings to family groups on match tickets
The introduction of a new email marketing system and database linked to all aspects of the Club means Town now has over 50,000 contacts who regularly receive information about the Club.
The Club launched a new initiative for fan engagement in September 2013; ‘All Together Town.
It now has over 20 panel members across a range of supporter interest groups. ATT goes from strength to strength and has been the catalyst for a new fans group, the ‘North Stand Loyal’, who are working hard to improve the spectacle and atmosphere.
In August 2014 the Club appointed a Supporter Liaison Officer to build and maintain a dialogue between supporters of Huddersfield Town and the Club by promoting cooperation, understanding and partnership to bring improvements to all aspects of interaction and activities.
The Club programme was rebranded to ‘Give us an H’ and has evolved from a magazine style to a newspaper style format. That change hasn’t worked and it will revert back in 2015.
The Club formed a new Supporter Partnership team, which is now working together with 94 schools partners, 41 club partners and three charity partners.
The first game of 2009 heralded the unique partnership with the Yorkshire Air Ambulance. In 2013/14 the Club reached a milestone in the partnership with, with the total reaching a remarkable £1 million.
That fantastic fundraising effort has seen five charity bike ride to:
Second Pedal for Pounds charity bike ride to the last ever game at the Withdean Stadium, Brighton
2011/12 was best year yet for the partnership, with over £341,000 raised when 300 cyclists went 280 miles on the Pedal for Pounds 3 charity bike ride from Yeovil named ‘Huish Park to Home’.
Another 300 cyclists took part in the ‘Pedal for Pounds 4’ charity bike ride, the ‘Tour of Yorkshire’, for the last league game of the season.
Walks for Pounds to Bury, Barnsley and from Bradford and Wakefield have followed along with the 10k “Run 4 Pounds” and the “Knights of Yorkshire” campaign.
Charity shirts have raised cash for:
All that effort comes into perspective when we see the YAA in action; never more so when Town’s own Tommy Smith was airlifted by YAA to hospital after suffering a head injury at a home game
200 kids played a team of Town legends in a game on the stadium pitch in May 2013 in an all-round fantastic day
The Town Foundation was launched in July 2012 and continues to work hand-in-hand with the Club to make a difference to the lives of young people in the community.
It has now served a truly remarkable 250,000 free breakfasts to kids in the area.
In June 2014 £20,000 was raised by a Three Peaks Challenge walk and as a result 300 kids will be taken to the seaside for a day out:
The Club’s ‘Football in the Community’ activities remain on of the very few areas unchanged since the days of Ken Davy, as they continue to be provided by the Huddersfield Community Trust (formerly named Huddersfield Sporting Pride Community Trust) based at The Zone in Huddersfield. It is an award winning operation and reaches out to thousands of young people each week, undertaking a huge range of community-enhancing initiatives.
The end of the 2008/09 season also marked the end of the playing career of Andy Booth. Andy, who was born in the town, has been an outstanding servant of Huddersfield Town and remains at the Club as an Ambassador. Andy featured in the recent ‘Pink Link Walkway of Legends’
For 2009/10 season, Town unveiled and began using ‘The Yorkshire Club’ line. It proved a talking point! It fits perfectly with the Club’s values and how it operates in the community.
On 1 January 2011 the Club formed a newco, Huddersfield Canalside Limited, to operate the new Academy and First Team training facility being developed at Leeds Road.
Significant investment was made, allowing the Club to exit Storthes Hall and move to a single site operation, meeting the requirements of the FA Premier League for Academies.
The Club unveiled a history wall as the PPG Canalside development completed its latest phase
By the summer of 2013, PPG Canalside had been transformed from the facility purchased two years earlier
In March 2012, thousands of Town fans paid silent tribute to six British soldiers killed in a bomb attack in Afghanistan. Three of the soldiers came from the Huddersfield area, with five of those killed in the Helmand blast serving in the 3rd Battalion, the Yorkshire Regiment when their Warrior armoured vehicle was blown up by a large improvised explosive device.
On 2 September 2013, a transaction was completed that saw the Club purchase a 40% shareholding in Kirklees Stadium Development Limited (KSDL) for £1. At the same time, £2m of loans were repaid to Ken Davy funded by a corresponding addition loan from Dean Hoyle to Town. This was a landmark event and restored a 40% stadium shareholding to the club:
In September 2013, acrimony accompanied Town’s Sky TV game with Hull City. With restrictions on Hull fans attending the game, a post-match inquiry examined the planning for the game which had passed without incident in front of just 7,151 fans:
Town also enlisted the help of Sir Patrick Stewart to name a locomotive after the Club:
New for 2015/16, Town Season Card holders will be in the South Stand; this is aimed improving the atmosphere and attendances.
As well as on the pitch, the Club - across all departments – has been consistently recognised for its off the pitch community activities. This is best demonstrated through awards that have been given. This success bring pride to everyone involved.
Dean Hoyle named EY North & Midlands Entrepreneur of the Year 2009
…and National Consumer Products Entrepreneur Of The Year
Examiner Community Awards 2014: Dean Hoyle to receive Achievement Award
Dean Hoyle receives honorary doctorate from University Chancellor Sir Patrick Stewart
Dean Hoyle receives an honorary degree from Leeds Metropolitan University
Jordan Rhodes; npower League 1 Player of the Year 2012
Huddersfield Town was named the North East Coca-Cola Community Club of the Year at The Football League Awards 2013
Examiner Business Awards 2014: Community Award
The Club has seen big changes in its finances during the ‘New Era’. Total turnover in 2007/08 was £4m before cup runs, whereas in 2013/14 that had risen to £10.5m. It will be broadly be the same in 2014/15.
Season Card income was £1.1m in 2007/08, compared with £1.7m in 2014/15.
Match day walk-up ticket sales were £600,000 in 2007/08 and will be £1.25m in 2014/15.
Distributions from the Football League were only £600,000 in League 1 in 2007/08; in 2014/15 they will be £4m.
In terms of attendances, in 2007/08 215,000 came through the games while in 2013/04 this was 274,000; a rise of 27%.
The Club’s key measure of off the field financial success and long term sustainability is the Underlying Contribution (see notes below) the Club’s business activities make to the significant fixed costs of financing the Stadium and on the field Total Football Expenditure, such as player wages.
The Club’s Underlying Contribution in 2013/14 was £6.6m, compared with £2.1m in 2007/08. This means, after £1m of stadium rent, the Club could afford to spend £5.6m on football (about £4.5m on player wages). Whilst the position has got a lot better, it is not sufficient to compete in the Championship, so we continue to need to trade players for profit and have support from the owner.
In May 2008 the Club’s assets totalled just £1.9m. At May 2014 they had grown to £14.6m.
After years of acrimony, dispute and failed deals the Club got its shares back in KSDL in September 2013
Over the seven years, the Club has made £12.5m on player transfers and spent £10.5m on transfers. A conservative estimate of the squad value is £10m, compared with £400,000 in 2008 (the current player book value of £3.2m compared with only £100,000 in 2008).
In December 2014 Town confirmed compliance with Football League Financial Fair Play rules:
The Club continues to be wholly owned by Dean Hoyle, with no institutional debt or short term debt funding and operates with no overdraft. The long term debt due to the former owner has been reduced to £0.5m. Long term debt due to Dean Hoyle continues to be unsecured, interest free and without repayment date.
In March 2015, as part of the Season Card campaign, Dean Hoyle asked fans to support steps to increase income by housing more away fans in the ground on rare occasions. He called on fans to ‘Sign Up’ to the Club – to be our twelfth man and make a difference. He said he believed a stable management team, a further year’s Championship experience and an improving squad will continue to take us forward again in 2015/16.
The ‘New Era’ review over the last three days has revisited some special events and recorded huge changes across the entire Club, as it has been transformed in so many ways, with many new fantastic memories already created on and off the field adding to the rich heritage of years before. As this season draw to a close, another chapter in the Club’s history and the ‘New Era’ is now set to be written.
Headline financial information is below: