Updated: Dec 8, 2021
Thursday, 2nd December 2021 – 19:00-21:00
Note: These minutes were taken by the Huddersfield Town Supporters’ Association (HTSA), not Huddersfield Town Association Football Club.
Club representatives: Andy Booth (Supporter Services); Mark Devlin (CEO – MD); David Threlfall-Sykes (Director – DTS); Dan Cooper (Ticket Office – DC); Ann Hough (Director – AH); Jonathan Wilkinson (Marketing – JW); Robyn Kennerdale (Supporter Services – RK); Rachel Taylor (Supporter Services – RT)
Fan Groups: HTSA (3); Huddersfield Town Disabled Supporters’ Club (1)
+ Multiple panel members
1. Loyalty Scheme
2. Interactions Between Players and Fans After Home Wins
3. Problems with Season Cards and Apple Wallet
4. Ticket Office Twitter Account
5. Online Ticket Management System
7. Update on Club Ownership, Financial Position, and Stadium Ownership
8. Fan-Led Review of Football Governance - Final Report and Recommendations
9. Safe Standing
10. B Team to First Team Progression
11. Environmental Policy
A panel member expressed disappointment about the club’s decision to abandon its loyalty scheme, especially since the ATT Panel was not consulted on potential options.
DC pointed out that the loyalty scheme remains in place. The points are being allocated from the club’s side, meaning that although fans cannot see or apply their points at present, they are still accumulating them (via away tickets, season cards, and Blue and White Foundation membership). Should the need arise to once again implement a points system (i.e., if away followings significantly increase), the club will be able to do so. DC stated that any future changes to the system will be discussed with the ATT Panel.
Interactions Between Players and Fans After Home Wins
A panel member enquired whether the club would consider encouraging players to celebrate with fans after home wins.
DTS observed that Carlos Corberán has a different temperament to and philosophy from David Wagner. Celebrations are not as organised or deliberate as they were during the period 2015-2019. That said, the management team and players are aware that many fans would like to see more proactive engagement, so this may change in the not-too-distant future.
Problems with Season Cards and Apple Wallet
A panel member said that several fans had encountered a problem with electronic season cards not being accessible via the Apple Wallet shortcut on iPhones.
DC stated that the issue may be related to the latest iOS update (15.1) and will raise it with Ticketmaster.
Ticket Office Twitter Account
A panel member asked whether there were any plans for the Ticket Office’s Twitter account (@htafctickets) to become more active.
DTS explained that the club intends to change the Ticket Office’s account into a general ‘help’ account. This account will answer all non-football related questions. It will be launched the week commencing 6th December.
Online Ticket Management System
A panel member stated that that they had come across various problems when using the club’s online ticket management system.
DC observed that Ticketmaster’s recent technical updates had produced several unexpected bugs. These have been resolved, with functionality restored to the ticket management system.
HTSA reported that they had received a significant number of complaints about matchday catering since the beginning of the season. In particular, fans have criticised queue management on concourses and the quality of produce on offer, with many saying that, as a result, they have stopped purchasing food and drink in the stadium. Considering this, HTSA asked what steps the club was taking to improve the situation.
DTS confirmed that the club is aware of issues around catering. He stated that many of the problems at the beginning of the season were down to a general shortage of staff in the hospitality sector. DTS further suggested that the club believes the situation has improved in recent months, though not to the standard to which the club aspires.
MD added that the Kirklees Stadium is one of the only grounds in the country that has draught beer available in every kiosk, which can cause unforeseen challenges when it comes to space and service. MD reported that the club has launched an independent review of the kiosk situation (similar to one that he oversaw while at Brentford) to identify potential areas for improvement.
HTSA asked how long the review would take. MD replied that the club hopes it will have concluded by mid-February. RK added that the club will be sending out a survey to gauge fan opinion on catering and other aspects of the matchday experience in the coming weeks.
Following on from this discussion, a panel member observed that many disabled fans have been unable to access the stadium’s catering facilities. MD admitted this was a problem and promised that a resolution is high on the club’s list of priorities.
Update on Club Ownership, Financial Position, and Stadium Ownership
HTSA and a panel member requested further information on the club’s current ownership situation.
MD said that there were no updates since the last ATT meeting. Phil Hodgkinson continues to work to resolve his own financial situation, while Dean Hoyle is providing financial support to the club when it is needed.
Regarding the January transfer window, MD reported that the club remains open to bringing in new players, so long as they are better than the current options. MD further stated that Dean Hoyle had told the Board of Directors and players to “give him a problem” in January.
HTSA argued that the current ownership situation was ambiguous and likely to be untenable in the long run. As such, HTSA pressed the directors present to clarify how long the current arrangement could last before either (a) Dean Hoyle has to formally step in as majority shareholder or (b) Phil Hodgkinson has to find another buyer for his shareholding.
MD responded that circumstances would dictate any developments, adding that the club remains in a healthy financial position in the short, medium, and long-term.
HTSA then asked for an update on the stadium ownership situation.
In response, MD stated that certain legal issues have yet to be resolved, but that negotiations between the shareholders are ongoing.
Fan-Led Review of Football Governance - Final Report and Recommendations
HTSA asked whether the club supported the recommendations of the Fan-Led Review of Football Governance, chaired by Tracey Crouch MP.
MD said that, in his personal opinion, many of the report’s recommendations represent good governance. He commented, however, that he would liked to have seen more details on how the game’s wealth could be better distributed throughout the pyramid.
Given the Sports Ground Safety Authority’s (SGSA) decision to permit safe standing areas in English and Welsh stadia, a panel member asked whether the club intends to install rail seating at the Kirklees Stadium.
AH stated that, having conducted a preliminary audit of the South Stand, the club was concerned that installing a safe standing area would reduce the current capacity. Even so, AH added that the club is still interested in exploring its options and is awaiting the outcome of trials at Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur, and Cardiff City.
B Team to First Team Progression
A panel member queried whether the club believes that its B Team model is delivering value for money.
DTS, who sits on the Academy Technical Board, said that the B Team includes several talented players. This, DTS argued, is borne out by the team’s recent performances, as well as the number of players out on loan at well-regarded EFL clubs.
MD said that the club has one of the best academy infrastructures in the Championship.
A panel member then asked for upcoming B Team fixtures to be published on the club’s website. DTS replied that it is not a fixed game programme, so fixtures change regularly.
A panel member asked whether the F.A. and/or EFL impose any sustainability benchmarks and whether the club is meeting them.
AH explained that the club intends to sign up to the EFL Green Clubs initiative, an accreditation overseen by GreenCode, which measures the environmental sustainability performance of businesses and helps develop strategies to improve it.
HTSA pointed out that the club sits alongside them on the Kirklees Stadium Sustainability Working Group, and that KSDL was making efforts to make the stadium more sustainable (i.e., introducing recycling bins on concourses, privileging local suppliers).
Any Other Business
A panel member criticised BBC Radio Leeds’ decision to split DAB frequencies over two regions, which means that some fans cannot listen to the broadcaster’s live commentary on Town games.
DTS acknowledged that the situation is not ideal, though there are extenuating circumstances (i.e., Radio Leeds is the only local radio station in the country that provides dedicated coverage of three professional clubs). DTS pointed out that, at present, no commercial radio stations provide (local) football commentary. He added that fans can listen to Town coverage on Freeview channel 719.
A panel member expressed concern over the condition of some of the plastic seats in the stadium and asked whether there were any plans to replace them.
AH replied that the club will look into it if the seat numbers are provided.
A panel member then raised the issue of the lack of allocated seats for fans travelling on club coaches to away games. This means that many people have to turn up early, which can be problematic, particularly for some disabled people.
DC said the club would consider offering the option of allocated seats so that friends and families can sit together.
A panel member said that the ATT Panel had lost its original purpose and should aim to focus on topics that can help the club. RK said that the club’s upcoming survey might point to subjects that the panel could focus on.
A panel member voiced their sadness at the passing of Mandy Taylor and praised her contribution to the club and Town Foundation. All panel members and club representatives offered their condolences.
The meeting closed at 20:58.