Huddersfield Hub sports editor STEVEN DOWNES attended Kevin Nagle’s first press conference as the new owner of Huddersfield Town. Here are Steve’s thoughts on the man and his plans for the club.
The Nagle has landed and it was finally good to hear from the man himself. But just who is Kevin M. Nagle? We probably knew as little about him as he knew about Huddersfield. But we’re starting to get to know each other and it could be the start of a beautiful relationship.
Nagle is a successful businessman and became co-founder and CEO of Envision Pharmaceutical Holdings in 2001. He sold his stake in the company in 2014 for an estimated $2.3 billion.
Nagle seems honest, open, down to earth and hard working. A self-made man from humble roots, he now owns football clubs on either side of the Atlantic, USL Championship side Sacramento Republic and Town.
Having been given the green light to buy the club from Dean Hoyle, Nagle, 68, is ready to take on the challenge with Town. Like many Americans he seems enthralled by the history and tradition to be found in the UK and Town’s thrice champions heritage fitted the bill.
Nagle admitted that he didn’t know much, if anything, about Town to begin with and said: “I’d always thought it would be good to own a club and I’d looked at buying equity in Aston Villa at one time.
“I’d looked at other Championship and League One teams, and even had discussions with a broker about a team, then suddenly this opportunity came along.
“I’d sold my equity in the Sacramento Kings (basketball team) so I had some extra liquidity and the opportunity availed itself while we were looking and then it happened in a relatively short period of time.
“In about ten days I went from barely knowing Huddersfield existed, and I don’t mean that pejoratively, to buying it. It’s not just the club that impressed me, though, it’s the community. It reminds me of where I grew up and I really relate to it.
“The more I got to know about Huddersfield, the more I gravitated towards it. It’s a working class town and there’s some analogies with Sacramento where we need to punch higher to be recognised and to win.
“I grew up in borderline poverty and had to fight for what I’ve got. I’m from a blue collar family and I grew up with that and relate to that. When I go to fancy dinners I sometimes pick up the wrong implement when I go to eat because I wasn’t educated on that. I didn’t go to prep school.
“The dynamic nature of the fanbase is special. There’s something special here and to me it’s one thing getting to the Premier League, but another staying there and competing and winning. Why wouldn’t that be my ambition?”
Nagle comes across as someone highly driven and a person that sees a goal and goes for it. He wants the club to be competitive on the pitch and off it too and has big plans to increase the club’s exposure through branding here in the UK and in the US.
He also wants to increase the club’s revenue streams either through sponsorship, merchandise being bought or food and drink being purchased on a matchday. He wants to utilise the stadium more and has tasked Dave Baldwin to sort out the ongoing dilemma regarding the stadium shares.
In his press conference he gave a broad brush vision, light on detail. He said: “We only have a short period of time so we’re going to first focus on access to drinks and food and merchandise. So we’ll focus on that, and there may be some other things we do on the stadium.
“That’s a complex situation as you know, but we’ve retained Dave Baldwin and his main focus will be on the stadium and where we take it.
“It should be the home of the club and it’s also a community asset. The community should be able to enjoy it and appreciate it. We have concerts but we should have more of that. We could do another 30-40 a year without affecting the pitch too much.”
Nagle set out in his opening remarks a clear seven-point plan for the club. “Our objectives: Number one is to stabilise on the pitch, and we have the best person to do that in Neil Warnock.
“Number two: We want to stabilise the finances. We need to stay within EFL regulations and have plans to do that. Number three: Find new revenue streams.
“Number four: To rebuild the academy. Investments must be made in this area and it is the mother’s milk of the club.
“Number five: Right-size the club’s personnel. We will expand some areas and may need to downsize areas. We have no more specifics on this.
“Number six: Investigate options around the stadium. Number seven: Most importantly building on our work in the community.”
It was an impressive first press conference by Nagle who is clearly a man who knows what he wants to achieve. He seems sensible enough to drive ambition on the pitch without reaching financially into unchartered waters and overstretching.
He also seems already engaged and determined to support the local community. Town is a community club and Nagle is right to keep that focus and deepen it.
Nagle and CEO Jake Edwards have made an impressive start to their tenure at the club. As a supporter, I believe we have the right people to take us forward both on and off the pitch in what is shaping up to be the most exciting and hardest Championship campaign ever.
Hear more of what I have to say regarding Nagle’s press conference on the West Yorkshire Football Show below.
If you want to hear the whole of Nagle’s press conference then just click below
Town recently released the first episode of a new documentary called UP THE TOWN that has documented Nagle’s purchase of the club. It is extremely interesting and is a great watch. Click below to see the first episode.