A report presented to the Kirklees Council cabinet underscores the urgency of resolving the ongoing issue surrounding the ownership of John Smith’s Stadium. This situation has become unsustainable. A crucial meeting scheduled for next week could bring us closer to a resolution.
Kirklees Council has expressed its desire to distance itself from the stadium and Kirklees Stadium Development Limited. In the past, the council offered to transfer its 40% ownership share to both Huddersfield Town and Huddersfield Giants. However, they now intend to hand over their share to one of these clubs, deviating from the previous agreement which required both clubs to be involved in any deal.
The forthcoming report for the Kirklees Council cabinet meeting emphasizes the importance of resolving this matter. It suggests that negotiations should be initiated with Huddersfield Town and Huddersfield Giants to grant them full control of the stadium. The report states, “In the past, the agreement allowed officers to negotiate a settlement in which HTAFC would assume operational control, necessitating the acquisition of all shares due to the corporate structure. Alternatively, the other parties can explore an arrangement where either HTAFC or Huddersfield Sporting Pride Ltd (HRLFC) assume individual or joint control.” The report also emphasizes the necessity for these parties to demonstrate an effective operational model for the stadium.
Cllr Graham Turner, Member for Regeneration and Finance at Kirklees Council, highlights the importance of resolving the KSDL issue for the benefit of all current shareholders. The financial position of KSDL, as outlined in the report, relies on the financial support of the clubs. The council is willing to forgive outstanding debts, but it acknowledges that this arrangement is not viable in the long term. Therefore, a negotiated agreement involving all shareholders is vital for the stadium’s long-term success and the well-being of both clubs. It’s essential that these negotiations safeguard the interests of the council and the residents of Kirklees.
Kirklees Stadium Development Limited, responsible for managing the stadium, is grappling with substantial debts running into millions of pounds. The stadium requires £8-10 million in refurbishments over the next decade to address a backlog of maintenance issues, extending its lifespan until 2050, with the bulk of the work needing to be completed in five years.
Currently, Huddersfield Town owns 40% of KDSL, while the Giants hold a 20% share.