Giants fans reassured as stadium ownership issue rolls on

HUDDERSFIELD GIANTS fans have been told that Huddersfield Town taking full operational control of the John Smith’s Stadium is the best way to “secure the future” of the venue, which is used by both the Rugby League and football clubs and needs up to £10 millions of investment.

Kirklees Council are in negotiations with Huddersfield Town as fears over the future financial viability of the current management company Kirklees Stadium Development Limited (KSDL) continue to mount.

The Council’s ruling Cabinet is willing to hand over the 24,000-plus-capacity stadium, which was opened in 1994, on a long-term lease to the football club with a “strong sub-lease” to the Giants.

The Council would retain the freehold to the land on which the stadium is built.

KSDL, set up in 1993, when stadium construction began, is owned by the Council (40 percent), Huddersfield Town (40 percent) and the Giants (20 percent).

A recent council Cabinet meeting was told that the rent paid by the two clubs had never covered stadium operating costs, leaving the company’s finances in a precarious position, with the situation worsened by the pandemic, with both the Giants and Huddersfield Town playing matches behind closed doors for a period.

It’s said that “severe cashflow difficulties” have been compounded by high energy costs.

Both Giants owner Ken Davy and Huddersfield Town owner Dean Hoyle – who bought the club from Davy in 2009 – have recently resigned as directors of KSDL in order to avoid any potential conflict of interest over deciding the future of the stadium, which needs £8 million to £10 millions of investment within a decade to deal with a backlog of maintenance issues and extend its life beyond 2050.

Under the latest proposal, the football club will cover the cost of repairs and refurbishment.

Council cabinet member for regeneration Graham Turner said: “KSDL has been in financial difficulties for some time now and it’s clear an alternative business model is required.

“Over recent years there have been negotiations with all the relevant shareholders as to the best way forward.

“I believe by allowing Huddersfield Town to take full operational control of the stadium, it will be safe hands and would be better placed to sweat the asset (get as much use as possible from it).

“I wish to assure fans of both clubs that this is the best way to secure the stadium’s future and ensure we continue to see high quality sport played here.”

After visiting Bradford on Sunday (2pm) and Castleford for Nathan Massey’s testimonial on Sunday, February 5 (3.30pm), Ian Watson’s Giants have a pre-season game against Dewsbury at the John Smith’s on Sunday, February 12 (3pm).

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