HUDDERSFIELD Town have solid foundations in place despite their play-off agony – and will continue to move forward.
So says Nigel Clibbens, the club’s chief executive .
He’s the man with his finger on the pulse of all things blue and white and he’s optimistic Town will turn the wheel of emotion full circle next time.
Clibbens is in place to manage chairman Dean Hoyle’s funding of the club and to oversee commercial and community activity – all of which provide a positive backbone for what happens on the pitch.
He sees no reason in the wake of Old Trafford for Town to feel sorry for themselves or to take a backward step from the long-term planning which Hoyle has put in place at the Galpharm and Canalside training complex to take Town to the Championship.
“Over the course of the season we have a lot to be proud of,” said Clibbens, who manages a turnover of between £5m and £6m in League I.
“We have had some fantastic times, the club has moved on and we’ve got to look forward to next season and the prospect of doing it the ‘easy’ way by winning automatic promotion.
“There is a lot to build on from what was, really, a great season with 27 matches unbeaten, 87 points and a record number of away wins. Those are statistics to be proud of and it was only at the final hurdle that it wasn’t our day.”
Clibbens says manager Lee Clark and the directors – he works closely with director of operations Ann Hough and commercial director Sean Jarvis – will do all they can to keep the playing squad as intact as possible while recognising the budgets that are already on the laptop.
“We have some great foundations in place and some excellent players, and we are a far better team now than we were this time last year (when Town lost in the play-off semi-finals to Millwall),” he said.
“Next season we will be even better, I’m sure, because we’ve got some terrific players with lots of ability and we want to keep moving forward with them.
“We don’t really want any of them to go and we don’t see any of them going. We want to keep moving forward because the lads have done great.
“It’s tough now, obviously, because we are all so disappointed, but I am sure come pre-season the players will all be looking forward to doing battle again and, next time, we’ll be determined to do it automatically.”
Backed by over 31,000 fans at Manchester United’s Theatre of Dreams, Clibbens knows expectations will be high once again. With the bulk of the squad already under contract, only a few bits of ‘tweaking’ are envisaged to enable Town to stand shoulder to shoulder with Preston, Sheffield United, Scunthorpe and the other promotion favourites.
“Last season was an exceptional League I and the teams that went up were very, very strong,” he continued.
“It just happens that, during the season, there were four of us vying for three places – two automatic (Brighton and Southampton) and one promotion through the play-offs (Peterborough).