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How Huddersfield Town are successfully negotiating commercial, community and common purpose

James Chisem from the Huddersfield Town Supporters Association on how the club are bucking the trend in the brave new modern game

Huddersfield Town vs Queens Park Rangers,17.09.2016: Town Fans at the John Smith's Stadium.
Huddersfield Town vs Queens Park Rangers,17.09.2016: Town Fans at the John Smith's Stadium.

Let’s be honest, the words ‘football’ and ‘big business’ go together like toothpaste and orange juice.

I first really became aware of this fact when I visited Poland in 2012 to watch the European Championship.

In the two cities I visited, Poznan and Warsaw, the UEFA and FIFA sanctioned fan zones were essentially mini-corporate fiefdoms, with certain multinationals calling the shots.

I even witnessed two security guards refuse to admit a young woman to the main area because she had a PepsiCo logo emblazoned on the front of her T-shirt.

LOOK: Did you make it into our Huddersfield Town vs Queens Park Rangers fan gallery?

After some toing and froing, which left her on the brink of tears, some important looking men holding walkie-talkies decided that the venue would kindly lend her a more suitable item of clothing.

On the way out, I noticed that the original shirt had been dumped unceremoniously in a Coca-Cola themed bin.

Obviously, this was an isolated incident, but it’s indicative of the way top-level football is going.

Frankly, Premier League games have come to resemble some sort of bizarre exposition, where Asian betting companies, German car manufacturers, and American insurers compete for the hard-earned pounds, dollars, and yen of hundreds of millions of global consumers.

Sadio Mane in action in the Austrian Bundesliga during his time at Red Bull Salzburg.
Sadio Mane in action in the Austrian Bundesliga during his time at Red Bull Salzburg.

And the rise of the Red Bull clubs has left me, and many others, genuinely perplexed as to whether we’re watching a football team or an advert for a fizzy-drink masquerading as a football team.

Now, I’m not suggesting that we should return to some mythical version of the past when football involved twenty-two selfless amateurs kicking a ball around a patch of mud just for the fun of it.

The world has changed and so has football, in many ways for the better. Stadia are safer and more inclusive, while players are fitter, faster, and more technically adept thanks to the introduction of sports science, cutting-edge nutrition, and so on.

WATCH: The amazing South Stand atmosphere as Huddersfield Town claim 2-1 win over QPR

All this means that the modern game is underpinned by a very complex commercial ecosystem - one that’s here to stay.

But that’s no excuse to run roughshod over football’s diverse, peculiar, and quaint traditions.

The challenge, as ever, is to balance the old with the new, the extraordinary with the necessary, and the interests of clubs and supporters with the interests of sponsors and businesses. No mean feat, right?

Well, I think that Huddersfield Town have done an outstanding job on all three fronts. The club and its commercial partners seem to be pulling in the same direction, united around a common purpose and sense of community spirit.

Perhaps the most impressive example of the strength of this relationship was last Saturday’s £5 ticket deal, which was subsidised by local company Absolute Warehouse Services.

It really was a credit to the club and the company, and, what’s more, it had the desired effect of getting bums on seats and creating a fortress-like atmosphere.

So long may Huddersfield Town continue to buck the trend!

WATCH: Final whistle celebrations as Huddersfield Town beat QPR at the John Smith's Stadium

And while we’re on the subject of booking things (I can hear the groans as I type), HTSA will be running a coach to Preston on October 19.

Members can reserve a seat for £10, while non-members can get one for £12 - the coach will be departing from the usual place at the stadium at 12.45pm.

This represents excellent value for money and we expect high demand.

You can book by ringing our Travel Line on 07905 580784 or emailing Robert Pepper (repepper.rep@gmail.com).

For more information on this, further Away Day travel or to get involved, visit the HTSA website or email Ian Lawrence on chair@htsa-online.co.uk.

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