Huddersfield Town has launched a new Club PPG Canalside membership scheme just weeks after veteran bowlers and snooker players were told their facilities were being reduced.
And as more traditional players quit the venue it has been claimed that much of the redevelopment being planned is to ensure the security of Town players.
The new revamped membership scheme, which starts on August 1, replaces the club’s existing social membership and offers members exclusive benefits such as match day car parking for £5. Previously this was free.
Founder members, such as the veterans who have accused Town of treating them poorly following their Premier League promotion, are not required to join the new scheme; renewal for them will be in January 2018.
However many people have already expressed their dissatisfaction at imposed changes, including the loss of the back bowling green and the axing of three snooker tables, by jumping ship. Snooker players are now actively looking for new venues with Huddersfield Billiards and Snooker Association (HBSA) deciding to stage its competition finals at an alternative site.
A spokesman for the bowlers using Canalside said much of the planned re-development seems to be targeted at ensuring Town players’ safety.
He said there had been incidents where football personalities had been approached by non-members for autographs and selfies, and that the club was keen to stamp out such incidents by restricting access.
“The back of the club is the designated professional area with no public admittance. The bowlers do not pester the players but there are more football stalkers coming into the club and walking up to the players and asking for pictures. They are not happy about that.
“I think eventually it will be used for football only. They are already increasing the number of security staff because of the success of the football club.”
Peter Gilbert, long-serving HBSA member and its webmaster, said: “In my opinion and in my experience Canalside appears to be dying. We do not appear welcome anymore and it is not a pleasant place to be anymore.
“I will not be renewing my membership in August. I have found somewhere else to play. The condition of the tables is poor. The match table is not good. The playing area is too cramped.
“There is not enough space to hold our Finals Fortnight there. The association will also move its matches to another venue because they don’t feel welcome anymore. Several clubs have offered their services.”
The HBSA boasts 47 active clubs with 136 teams and more than 1,100 players aged 14 to 90-plus.