Phil Hodgkinson has been Chairman of Huddersfield Town for a couple of weeks now, but details of the buy out were pretty much secret, until very recently. A new interview with Examiner Live goes into great detail on the deal and it’s a very interesting read.
The fantastically detailed, extended interview, below, outlines just how much Town fan Hodgkinson wanted to own his boyhood club, physically losing money in order to get the deal done…
“To me, it was very important Dean had the opportunity of that Man United game (on May 5), to have that last home game (as chairman).
“So we announced the deal before it was completely finalised, if you like, because there is a hell of a lot of paperwork and a lot of contracts to do.
“But we had agreed the deal, we had shaken on it, we had exchanged, but there were still a lot of ‘legals’ to do, which took quite a number of weeks.
“Couple that with the fact the Premier League didn’t want to do the fit and proper test because we were, at that point, relegated and they wanted to pass over that responsibility to the EFL – and we didn’t become an EFL club until the 7th of June.”
“They then had their conference, so the EFL weren’t back in their offices until the 11th of June, and I received an email on the 12th of June which confirmed I had passed the fit and proper test, so that took just a day in reality,” said Hodgkinson, a lifelong fan.
“If we are talking about the betting, in essence the FA changed the rules on betting at the end of 2015 – so the rules on betting before that said that if you were a player, a manager or a coach you couldn’t bet on football.
“If you were involved in any other capacity in football, you could bet on football providing you didn’t bet on the competition you were taking part in or your own team.
“Those rules changed at the end of 2015 but, news flash, the FA don’t ring you all up and tell you.
“What they do is send the club secretary a two inch thick FA handbook and expect you to read all 900 pages of it and work it out for yourself.
“I wasn’t aware that the rules had changed, I had the occasional bet which, ultimately, came to light, so I was charged with a breach of the betting rules.
“The FA said to me it was the lowest grade breach of the rules they had come across. It was minimal. It was a tiny amount of money. They accepted it was a genuine misunderstanding and mistake, and therefore there was no suspension or ban.”
Here’s how Hodgkinson ran into further problems and how he managed to make the deal happen…
“When there is no suspension or ban it generally doesn’t affect anything but, to the letter of the law, even if you are not suspended or banned for a breach of the betting rules, even if it’s only a nominal fine, which is what I got, it is still potentially a disqualifying condition when it comes to fit and proper,” he told fans at a Q&A at the Odeon Cinema.
“The EFL had no issues with it, but the problem was you can only appeal if you are banned or suspended. And I wasn’t, so under the rules I couldn’t appeal.
“As a result of that, I went down to the FA for a hearing, which lasted for two minutes and 49 seconds – I timed it – and it was overturned. As a result of what happened, the FA are actually having to rewrite that part of the rules because of my case.
“But I didn’t fail the fit and proper person test, I didn’t have to appeal against it, it all went through perfectly swimmingly.”
“The delay in the deal being announced (from there) was actually to do with the National League and Southport,” he answered.
“Because I wasn’t expecting the opportunity (to buy Town), I had bought and put a significant investment – a few million pounds – into Southport Football Club in the National League North.
“When this (buying Town) came about, I obviously had to try and sell that interest (in Southport) so my fellow director Ian Kyle agreed to buy my shares, but at that moment in time he couldn’t acquire the full shareholding of £2million from me at that time.
“So we had to find a solution.
“That delayed the announcement. I had passed fit and proper and gone through all that, it was all done, but the National League were holding up the deal on the basis of this condition.
“Ultimately, I had to give away £2million for £100, which I am still not comfortable about and I am a bit gutted, but it was either that or I couldn’t own the football club I fell in love with 40 years ago, so that’s what I did.”
Unbelievable commitment from the business man, meaning The Terriers should be in good, loyal hands again going forward.