Huddersfield Town are said to be closing in on “operational control” at the John Smith’s Stadium.
Talks are well advanced over creating a Community Trust to take ownership of the stadium with the football club taking over the day-to-day running.
While that means the club would face more costs it would also receive more revenues as the club could seek other funding streams.
Huddersfield Hub reported in March that the company which currently owns the stadium, Kirklees Stadium Development Ltd (KSDL), faced administration without significant financial support.
KSDL has loans of around £6 million and the stadium will need £9 million-worth of repairs and maintenance over the next decade.
KSDL is owned by Kirklees Council (40%), Huddersfield Town (40%) and Huddersfield Giants (20%).
The council warned that the failure of the company would potentially result in big losses to taxpayers because the council had a guarantee on KSDL’s bank loan.
The council’s ruling Cabinet backed plans to set up a Community Trust, which would protect community ownership of the stadium, and discussions have been underway.
Minutes of the meeting of the All Together Town Panel, published by Huddersfield Town Supporters’ Association, reveal that the creation of the Community Trust is the “most likely outcome” of discussions.
All the partners will hand their shares to the Trust and, in turn, the council will loan the Trust the £13 million it says it needs to move forward. The football club would pay the interest on this loan if, as anticipated, it takes operational control
According to the minutes, Town’s chief executive Mark Devlin told the meeting that there was a “strong chance” the new structure could be in place for the start of the 2021-22 season. Huddersfield Giants were said to be “amenable” to the plans.
It is thought the Trust could have some community representatives and maybe fan representation.
Town chairman Phil Hodgkinson said if Town secured operational control they would look to improve the fan experience and would consult on the food and drink options in the coming months.
Mr Hodgkinson would like to maximise the conferencing and hospitality potential at the stadium and is looking at taking over the lease of the Rope Walk pub from Greene King and also creating another bar in the stadium itself similar to the “tunnel club” at Manchester City.
Town officials also want an improved “fan zone” which again could help maximise match-day income.
Mr Hodgkinson also believes the stadium has more potential as a conferencing venue linked to the hotel planned as part of the HD One development.