Since the John Smith’s Stadium was built in 1994, the financial benefits from supporters’ match day spending on food and drinks has gone directly to Kirklees Stadium Development Limited (KSDL) and its catering partner. From 2008 to 2013, Huddersfield Town did not receive an indirect benefit either, because it had no ownership stake in KSDL. Now, thanks to a partnership between the club, Kirklees Stadium Development Limited - who own and operate the John Smith’s Stadium - and Sodexo, its catering partner, every penny spent at John Smith’s Stadium on food and drink on a Town match day or event will bring a cash benefit to Town.
In 2013, the club became a 40 per cent shareholder in KSDL and it gained an indirect benefit, although, until now, no cash has ever come directly into the club from match day or event catering. However, the share deal that saw Town get an ownership stake also included provision for the club to negotiate changes to catering arrangements.
A Huddersfield Town spokesman said: “Now, after long negotiations, thanks to this new partnership, every penny spent at John Smith’s Stadium on food and drink in concourses and hospitality, boxes and suites on a Town match day or at Town stadium events will bring a real and direct cash benefit to Town. Cash will come into the club from the sales and the more that is spent, the bigger the direct cash benefit to the club.”
Huddersfield Town chairman Dean Hoyle said: “When I arrived as chairman in 2009, the club had no share in the John Smith’s Stadium and earned nothing directly or indirectly from the food and drink bought by supporters on its match days either.
“This was a very unusual situation, probably shared by only a handful of other professional clubs. That structure certainly has been detrimental to us and has not helped the Stadium’s catering partner or KSDL either.
“It has taken a lot of time to reach this new level of partnership with a new shared direct financial interest. The first step was for the club to get its stadium shares back, which has subsequently led to this new deal.
“KSDL, Sodexo and the club are all set to benefit from the new way of working, that will see the match day spend of Town fans directly benefit their club. That has to be right.
“I’m sure everyone can see the importance of this as another important step forward in making Huddersfield Town sustainable and viable. It also gives the club and its fans an even bigger stake in the success of the John Smith’s Stadium.
“In tandem with this arrangement, the club and Sodexo have been working with supporters for some time through the ‘All Together Town’ fans’ panel to improve the catering products and service to our supporters on our match days. All of us understand that this new way is one that should benefit everyone.
“Now we can all work together even more closely to help grow the catering business. It will definitely take time but this is a huge opportunity and I really hope the fans of the club will join with us and support it. This is a big step forward for us all and that’s to everyone’s benefit. With the support of our fans and by working with Sodexo, we can all make a big difference. This is a ‘win-win’.”
Fenny Greenfield, Sales and Marketing Manager at the John Smith’s Stadium, added: “We are delighted by the news of this partnership. We have been working hard to improve the catering standards here at the John Smith’s Stadium since taking on the contract in 2014 and feel this is another positive step forward for all parties involved.”