A personal view by Huddersfield Hub’s STEVEN DOWNES, a Town season card holder and lifelong fan
Huddersfield Town’s former owner Dean Hoyle has revealed he may not return to watch the team next season – and how sad would that be after everything he’s done for the club?
Hoyle sold a majority stake in 2018-19 to fellow fan Phil Hodgkinson, while retaining 25%. Hoyle owned the club from 2008 and was the major decision maker for a decade.
It is a sad end to a story that led Huddersfield Town to the promised land of the Premier League for the first time in 45 years.
Hoyle, 53, is the club’s most successful chairman in living memory and while he says he’s thick-skinned personally, he is tired of the online abuse surrounding the club. His undoubted passion for a club he has supported home and away since 1979 appears to be fading fast.
On the podcast it Looks Good On Paper Hoyle spoke about the online abuse and said: “I am fortunate I can watch them now. Will I go next season and going on? I’m not sure, maybe it’s time to have a break, football is exhausting.
“I have supported Huddersfield since 1979 home and away. Not every away game but a lot and so I have travelled up and down the country.
“The minority spoil it for the majority and I am talking about social media here. So will I go next year? I’m not sure yet.
“I am undecided whether that’s it now. I would love to go watch Huddersfield, but you have to enjoy it and I’m not sure I’d enjoy it knowing what’s happened in the last 12 months, which I find quite sad.”
Hoyle also spoke in the podcast candidly about his sale of the club. Revealing that two foreign investors were interested in purchasing the Terriers whilst in their second season in the Premier League.
However after much deliberation he decided to sell to club sponsor Phil Hodgkinson.
There is much debate amongst Town fans as to whether this was the correct decision. As Hoyle explains in the podcast Town could have ended up in a situation like Blackburn Rovers or Wigan Athletic where fans of the club sold to outside investors.
The deal with Hodgkinson took place to a backdrop of Hoyle being in hospital with a serious illness which has also to be considered.
Knowing the club will be relegated, the messiah of a manager David Wagner leaving and recruitment being off key, Hoyle didn’t think he had the energy to right the wrongs of the second season in the Premier League.
Zoom calls were made between potential new owners. However, Hodgkinson was the right choice for Hoyle. Hodgkinson, a Town fan himself, owned non-league side Southport at the time.
During the podcast Hoyle was also critical of online abuse pointed at the current Town chairman.
Whilst most fans have seemingly made their own mind up about Hoyle and Hodgkinson, you have to respect the fact we now have answers to a number of questions.
This includes the deal between Hoyle and the club regarding PPG Canalside, the club’s training complex.
The training facility, once a working’s men club, has since been transformed into a state-of-the art facility. Plans were revealed to make changes to the building itself however due to the outbreak of Coronavirus the club has had to scale back these plans.
Hoyle revealed that the club pays him rent as it’s his land. The club is able to buy the land if they so wish within the first ten years of Hoyle not being chairman. That gives Hodgkinson breathing space.
One of the saddest things to come from the 80-minute interview was how the club changed its ethos.
All through Hoyle’s time in charge there was a sense of striving to be better. A one club mantra, even in the dark days of failed League 1 promotion attempts and Championship survivals. We, as supporters, clung onto the hope that at least we had Dean in charge.
However, that one club mentality seemingly changed with promotion to the Premier League. Players asking for more and more money and Hoyle even revealed the same was going on behind the scenes with non-playing staff.
He said: “Lots of the players believed they were Premier League players. When agents were trying to get them contracts elsewhere and couldn’t, players started to sulk.
“They thought they were Premier League players but the team isn’t. What they didn’t realise was individually and collectively they weren’t Premier League players, so they started to sulk. So that is why we couldn’t get started and why we had that poor beginning.
“Money became a factor for lots of people in the football club, not everybody but a good few. They saw the Premier League money as their opportunity, and that left a sour taste in my mouth. That brought a few cracks throughout the football club.”
That comment alone is a stark statement that the club had gone from a fan connected club to people being out for themselves.
A club like Town needs to be connected with its community. The continued fantastic work the Huddersfield Town Foundation does should be praised. There are other aspects of the club that have become so far detached it will take many years to repair.
Ultimately Dean Hoyle should be remembered and praised for his amazing work as chairman. However, time will only judge if decisions made at the end of his reign were the right ones.
As he rightly says: “It’s not my train set anymore, I can only watch the train go around.”
What we can all agree on though is that social media and online abuse should not be tolerated. The fact it can drive someone away from doing something they love is awful.
You can watch the full podcast below.