Kirklees Council wants no further involvement in the running of the John Smith’s Stadium and will put no more money into the failing management company that operates it.

The council has published its latest report into the three-way negotiations over the future of Kirklees Stadium Development Ltd (KSDL).

The council warned in March 2021 that KSDL was on the brink of going bust and talks over the future of the stadium have since failed to produce any agreement.

KSDL is owned by Kirklees Council (40%), Huddersfield Town (40%) and Huddersfield Giants (20%) and all parties must agree on any deal going forward.

In a report to the council’s Cabinet on Tuesday October 17, the council’s position is made absolutely clear.

The report says: “The council, through its directors, officers and exercises of shareholder decisions, has been clear that it does not wish to be involved in the future management of KSDL or the stadium and have made clear that beyond the financial restructuring that has already been agreed, the council will not contribute further funding to facilitate the day-to-day operation of KSDL.

“Its continued ability to operate (as a going concern) is based on commitments by the other parties to ensure that the company has adequate cashflow to ensure that it can meet its obligations, and by a council agreement not to pursue debts outstanding at the present time.”

Questions have been asked repeatedly by opposition councillors whether the council has written off millions of pounds in loans to KSDL but the council has never responded.

The report confirms “financial restructuring” which could suggest writing off loans but then also says the council will not pursue “debts outstanding at the present time.”

The report makes it clear that KSDL is only surviving due to money provided by Town and the Giants.

In December 2022 the council’s Cabinet gave approval for senior officers to enter negotiations with Town and the Giants over handing “operational control” to the football club.

Now the Cabinet is being asked to amend that slightly to include the Giants. The initial agreement, back in 1992-93, was always intended to provide security for both clubs. The separate ownership was to prevent the stadium being sold off if either club went into administration.

The council report says: “The previous agreement was that officers could negotiate a settlement position that provided for HTAFC to take operational control which given the corporate structure would require them to acquire all of the shares.

“An alternative option is for the other two parties to agree a structure whereby either HTAFC or Huddersfield Sporting Pride Ltd (the Giants) take effective control individually or together but this is not provided for by the current Cabinet authority.

“It is suggested that having wider options for negotiation of a solution that meets the needs and desires of both clubs would be desirable.

“It is also important that in this arrangement the owners provide evidence of an effective operating model that meets their needs and gives the council as freeholder some assurance.

“It should also provide a settlement where all of the parties appear to have benefited fairly from their period of ownership.

“It is believed that the financial position offer made already by the council should be adequate to enable progress to be made.”

Mention of the council as “freeholder” suggests that the council will retain ownership of the land on which the stadium is built.

Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman, who was involved in negotiations in the early 90s, says that the land was “gifted to the people of Huddersfield” by chemical giant ICI and he’s concerned at the stadium effectively being given away by the council.

An angry tweet from Mr Sheerman at the weekend said he was “determined to ensure that the people of our town are not robbed of the generous gift of the land.”

His tweet brought an immediate response from Town’s new owner Kevin Nagle (above) who condemned the council for a “refusal to invest capital into the stadium as a 40% owner” and slammed what he described as the “inadequate maintenance.”

The immediate financial woes of the stadium have also been hit by the announcement by Kirklees Active Leisure, the trust that runs sports centres and swimming pools on behalf of the council, that it is moving its head office from the stadium and handing back the lease of the stadium gym and pool, meaning it will close unless a new operator can be found – or Mr Nagle is prepared to fund it.

Mr Nagle has said he is fully aware of Town fans’ concerns about the stadium and the pool and in his reply to Mr Sheerman added: “I am optimistic there is a win-win-win solution if we use our common sense and think about our community.”

With passions still running high, talks appear to be some way from a conclusion. Town chief executive Jake Edwards told Huddersfield Hub last week that the club thought a deal could be done around the end of the football season.

That is supported by a line in the council report which says: “It is possible that for various reasons, the other parties will choose not to complete any arrangements for some months, probably not until Spring 2024 at the earliest.

“This is considered adequate, as long as the clubs continue to ensure the company has sufficient cashflows to enable it to solvently trade.”

In a statement rounding off the council report, Clr Graham Turner, Cabinet member for regeneration and finance, says: “It is important that the issue of KSDL is resolved to the benefit of all existing shareholders.

“The financial position of KSDL as outlined in the report is reliant on the financial support of the clubs. This is not sustainable over the long term therefore a negotiated agreement with all shareholders is vital to the long-term success of the stadium and of both clubs.

“It is also important that the negotiations protect the interests of the council and the residents of Kirklees. I fully support the recommendations within this report to enable officers to negotiate a satisfactory outcome for all shareholders, the council and the residents of Kirklees.”