Chairman Phil Hodgkinson issues our monthly update
- An update from Huddersfield Town Chairman Phil Hodgkinson
- Latest piece covers Season Cards, relegation battle and more
- Third monthly update from the Board
I would like to begin this monthly update by thanking every single Huddersfield Town fan for their continued support during these unique circumstances.
The support that you have all shown this year, particularly our Season Card holders, has been astonishing. I’d like to thank you personally once again, and on behalf of everyone at the Club. Your backing, financially and in every other way, has been vital.
On Monday, we released all the information for our 2021/22 Season Card campaign, including the prices and other pertinent information.
The centrepiece of the campaign is the video, which really focuses on everything that we’ve all missed due to the pandemic over the last 12 months. What happens on the pitch is key, but equally it is the match day atmosphere that makes our game very special. Without you in grounds over the last year, football has been unrecognisable to the sport we all know and love. The video really highlights how exciting it will be to have everyone back at the JSS, hopefully for the first day of next season.
I understand that some supporters will want to wait to see how things end this season, and how the summer goes. I also know that the pandemic might make people nervous about returning to normal life, including crowds. As such, we’ve tried to give every supporter as long as possible to take advantage of this period. We launched as early as we were ready to and set the deadline as 30 June 2021. Accordingly, we will not and cannot extend that deadline, as the Ticket Office then need time to sort logistics, like seat moves, before next season gets under way.
Obviously, Season Card sales are a big part of our financial planning. We’ve endeavoured to keep prices among the best regular value in the EFL once again, including the pledge I made to freeze prices for three years for supporters who paid for their Season Card this year and didn’t request a refund.
Aside from the financial aspect, having our Season Card holders inside the John Smith’s Stadium provides such energy to the team and the players, and we’ve sorely missed that. Anyone who listened to Christopher Schindler, Harry Toffolo and Duane Holmes speak on the latest episode of ‘Boothy’s Beer & Banter’ got a proper understanding of the challenges of playing behind-closed-doors for the players, too.
Alongside Season Cards, we’ve spoken about the importance of maximising our commercial revenue to our sustainability and it was fantastic to secure Utilita as our main shirt sponsor for the next three years over the last month. Thank you and welcome to them, and my congratulations to our new Commercial Director Ian Birtley for securing that deal during the unique challenge of the current commercial climate. We’re very hopeful of announcing a few more commercial partnerships over the coming weeks.
I mentioned the work that has gone on here to help our long-term future, and the discussions over the future of the John Smith’s Stadium are at the heart of that. You will have seen reports in the local media about discussions at council level and I believe this is the most encouraging news for the football club on the stadium since its inception.
Should those plans carry through – and we’re all working tremendously hard to ensure they do – it will give the football club the ability to drastically improve the match day experience for you. I won’t go into detail about exact plans for now, but what we want to do is revolutionise the match day experience for every single one of our supporters, and to make the Stadium a much more viable day-to-day revenue generator for the football club.
On the pitch, we have five hugely important Sky Bet Championship games remaining as we aim to secure our Championship status. It’s not where we wanted to be, for sure, but I can assure you that everyone is up for that challenge.
There are reasons behind our current league positions – key injuries have really hampered us, for sure – but this is not the time to look for excuses. My trust in Carlos and his coaching team has not wavered. I still believe he is a highly talented Head Coach and the man for us, and his staff - like all of the staff in the entire club – are exceptional; we saw evidence of how we’re aiming to perform during the first half of the season. Like all of us, I am sure he would do some things differently if he had his time again, but the key is always to learn from every experience.
When the closed season comes, we will do all we can to continue our squad transition and bring in players to suit the style of football he – and the Club – wants, but also more importantly ensure that every single new signing fits our identity, our ethos and has the attitude and application that I know every one of you, like me, wants to see. We will ensure we do not gamble with the financial security of the Club to do so, but that is about balance. We will have the squad budget to improve what Carlos has.
I know that the last three seasons have been very difficult for you, and every Town supporter. Promotion to the Premier League was a truly special moment, but from the relegation season to the current one, we have not won enough games – and then to cap it off, you haven’t even been able to come to watch our matches.
Clearly, we have made mistakes along the way. We wouldn’t be where we are in the league if this were not the case. As I said, the key is to learn from them and not to repeat them.
I also firmly believe we have undertaken a lot of work that puts us in good stead for the future. We are in a better place financially than many in the Championship, for example, as we still look to reduce our debt to manageable levels. We’re ensuring that process isn’t carried out to the detriment of the Club’s day-to-day operations, and I must thank Dean Hoyle for deferring some of his scheduled loan repayments as we protect cashflow through the pandemic, and also for extending the timescale in which the remainder of his loans are repaid.
Our strength over the last decade has been our ‘One Club’ mentality. That played a huge role in this Club reaching the promised land of the Premier League back in 2017, and I believe it’s hugely important to try and recapture this unity. There has been understandable disappointment and anger over the last few years, but we must now recapture that feeling. There has to come a point when looking back in anger serves no purpose and a realisation that regardless of how we may feel, nothing will ever change the fact that we are stronger together, and by being together we have more chance of being successful.
A lot of that depends on what we do as a Club moving forward and we will do everything we can to return to a winning habit on the pitch and to bring smiles back to our supporters. A lot of that will come from what happens on the pitch, but we must also recapture that connection between supporters and the Club.
I am hopeful to be able to bring positive news both on and off the pitch in the coming months, that will go some way to help with that process, but our first and most important job is to be successful in the next five games and to get the results and points that we need to remain in the Championship.
I’ll finish by thanking every single supporter once again for your support. It has been truly extraordinary.
Good luck to Carlos, the staff, and the team at Nottingham Forest tomorrow.