KIRLEES Council taxpayers funded the new pitch at Huddersfield's John Smith’s Stadium, it has been revealed.
A new financing arrangement between Kirklees Council and the stadium will save the public hundreds of thousands of pounds.
But it has been confirmed that money given to the stadium by the council under the new deal paid for the £750,000 new pitch, which was laid last summer.
It was part of a £1.3m payout by the council to Kirklees Stadium Development Ltd (KSDL), revealed in draft accounts prepared by the authority.
Details of the pay-outs were queried by Huddersfield Town fan Robert Large, who has asked a series of questions of councillors and council officers.
He said last night: “It did seem an awful lot of money compared to the figures previously talked about.
“But if it saves the public money in the long term it is a good idea.
“Some people may question whether or not the council should be paying for a pitch to be used by two professional sports clubs, in Huddersfield Town and Huddersfield Giants, but as the council are shareholders in the stadium it is in their interests”.
Many fans have been studying the figures closely as the row over ownership of the stadium shares drags on.
Town fans are demanding that their 40% share is returned to the soccer club from Huddersfield Sporting Pride, the company set up by Giants owner Ken Davy after he stepped in to help out Town in the days before Dean Hoyle took over.
A spokesman for Kirklees Council said that the £1.3m transfer of funds from the council to KSDL in 2011/12 reflected a restructuring of the financial arrangements between KSDL and the council agreed in 2011.
“Under the previous arrangements dating from 2004, the council was committed to providing £275,000 a year of revenue support to KSDL until the loans relating to the original construction of the stadium were repaid in 2021.
“These arrangements were renegotiated to reflect the changed financial circumstances of both parties since that date.
“The new arrangement provides for capital grant of £1.84m to KSDL over a two-year year period, of which £1.1m was provided in 2011/12, with reduced revenue support of £200,000 in 2011-12 and £100,000 in 2012-13.
“With no further financial support after that date this reduces the council’s total commitment to KSDL by £600,000.
“KSDL used £0.34m of this funding to settle a liability to the council and the balance of the capital funding in 2011-12 was used to fund the pitch replacement at the stadium which is to the long-term benefit of the stadium complex.”
The deal was decided in private by the Cabinet. The spokesman said the council’s draft accounts will be corrected to address the arrangements and stressed that as the council’s contribution has moved from annual revenue support to capital investment in the stadium, it is not underwriting KSDL’s cash flow.
But the authority still has a commitment to underwrite the loans which KSDL took out originally to fund the building of the stadium.
The new pitch was laid in May and June last year with synthetic fibres mixed with grass to provide a long-serving surface.
The previous pitch, which was also partly artificial, had lasted for 18 years.