AS Huddersfield Town’s centenary season comes to a close, it is timely to remember the club almost didn’t reach that 100-year landmark.

When Town went into administration in 2003 – with debts of almost £20m – there was a very real prospect that the club, "thrice champions" in the 1920s, would disappear .

There was no line of Blue and White billionaires queuing to invest in the ailing club.

That’s when Ken Davy, chairman of Huddersfield Giants, stepped in with the cash to keep the football club going.

However Mr Davy, who is soon to relinquish chairmanship to Dean Hoyle, has divided opinion among Town fans.

For many supporters, the issue that will define Mr Davy’s reign is not that 11th-hour rescue act, it is the issue of shares in the stadium.

Mr Davy bought Town’s 40% stake in the company running the stadium – Kirklees Stadium Development Ltd (KSDL) – as part of his takeover of Town after the club went into administration in March, 2003.

At the time, administrators at insolvency firm Begbies Traynor valued those shares at just £2 in total – reflecting the size of the stadium’s debts and the potential for Town to forfeit its shares in KSDL if Town’s liabilities to the stadium company were not met.

Those shares were subsequently transferred to Huddersfield Sporting Pride Ltd (HSPL), a company set up by Mr Davy, which "ringfenced" the stadium shares and protected both Town and the Giants from any potential liabilities the stadium company incurred.

Some have even suggested Town should fund its own stadium, posing the question: Who would have most to lose if the club quits the Galpharm? Mr Davy’s critics feel the decision to retain Town’s 40% stake in the stadium company following the handover leaves the club with no financial stake in its future – and no prospect of profiting from the proposed multi-million pound development of the stadium complex.

The HD One scheme, launched last year, envisages major development of the 54 acres around the ground to provide a premier tourist destination with attractions including a ski slope, a bowling alley, a hotel, offices, restaurants and bars.

While the recession has put those plans on hold, in the long term KSDL – with Mr Davy the majority shareholder – stands to make money from the scheme should it be realised.

Without a stake in KSDL, Town would see no direct benefit in terms of cash to spend on players.

What is beyond dispute is that Ken Davy saved Town from oblivion, and that with no other viable proposal on the table, Begbies Traynor was carrying out its duty to seek the best possible outcome in accepting the takeover offer.

Certainly, Sir John Harman, who chairs KSDL, is in no doubt about Mr Davy’s legacy as he hands over to Dean Hoyle.

Sir John said: "The handover marks a milestone in the Huddersfield Town story and everyone is looking forward to the new season.

"Dean brings great energy and commitment to the club. He can build on the foundations laid by Ken Davy, who will always be honoured here for the way in which he stepped into save the historic football club from oblivion and then built it back on a sound footing.

"There would be no exciting future had Ken not invested his own money and also a huge amount of his own time and effort over the last few years."

But Huddersfield Town Supporters Association chairman Marcus Middleton has a very different verdict – saying that many fans are unhappy that Mr Davy is retaining the club’s 40% stake in KSDL despite giving up the chairmanship.

Said Mr Middleton: "We feel we need the shares back and hopefully Mr Davy will do the right thing – either give back the shares or sell them.

"Dean Hoyle just owns the players and the staff. He has no stake in the stadium whatsoever, which is wrong."

Mr Middleton said the shares issue would affect how Mr Davy would be remembered by fans.

He said: "Ken Davy has to be thanked for bringing the club through administration, but since then his legacy has got less and less because of the shares. It could have been otherwise."

Mr Middleton also criticised Mr Davy’s attitude to Town fans, saying: "He thinks if you ignore someone they will go away, but I won’t because Huddersfield Town means a lot to me."

Mr Middleton said Mr Davy – and KSDL’s other shareholder, Kirklees Council – had failed to answer fans’ questions about how the shares issue was handled.

Following the rescue in 2003, Mr Davy paid out £1.5m in cash, mostly on wages owed to former players. He went on to lend more money to cover the club’s losses and reckons his total investment stands at £3.5m – or £13,000 a week during his tenure at the club.

As a demonstrably successful businessman, Mr Davy may feel that having taken the risks, he deserves to reap the rewards.

Mr Davy had agreed to an interview with the Examiner about his time in charge at Town. However, on May 14, a day before the interview was due to take place, Mr Davy called the paper’s editor to say he was postponing the meeting for two weeks. We hope to bring you the interview as soon as possible.

The assurances

KEN Davy and his directors have repeatedly sought to reassure Town fans about the future of the club since the shares issue came under the spotlight.

In an Examiner article on May 6, 2005, then chief executive Andrew Watson moved to allay fears of Town becoming "detached" from the stadium as work got underway to make KSDL a profitable company in years to come.

He stressed that it was Kirklees Council – as owners of the old Leeds Road ground – who put the £5m proceeds from the sale of the site towards the £17m needed to build phase one of the stadium while the remaining £12.5m came from the council, sports grants and commercial deals.

Although Town had a 40% stake in KSDL, THAT Huddersfield Town went into administration owing almost £20m and had to be rescued. When Ken Davy stepped forward, Town’s 40% share was valued at just £2, reflecting the stadium’s £8m of debt and the potential that Town would have to forfeit its shares in KSDL if Town’s liabilities to KSDL were not met.

Mr Watson said the Giants did not own shares in KSDL while Ken Davy was rescuing Town. Ken Davy owned the Giants’ 20% stadium share in the company Huddersfield Sporting Pride Ltd (HSPL). The Giants had been ringfenced from the stadium shares through a separate company a few years earlier to protect them from any potential stadium liabilities – the same problem faced by Town at the time of the administration.

Mr Watson said that having HSPL owning Town’s 40% as well as the Giants’ 20% "totally de-risks" Town and the Giants from KSDL’s £8m liabilities.

Both clubs were assured of their future at the stadium because of their right to occupy it through to 2143, Mr Watson said. Asked whether Town would benefit if the stadium became profitable, Mr Watson said the club was "already benefiting" from investment in stadium facilities.

And he stressed: "We have been very clear that we are going to build a football club that lives off its own revenues."

The stadium timeline

November, 1991: Kirklees Council, Huddersfield Town and Huddersfield Rugby League Club form a unique partnership to create a stadium complex providing facilities for sport, entertainment and hospitality

April 1994: As work on the new McAlpine Stadium continues, Town play their last match at the Leeds Road ground where 16,000 people see them win 2-1 against Blackpool

August, 1994: Town play their first match at the McAlpine even though only two sides of the stadium have been completed, losing 1-0 to Wycombe Wanderers

April 2002: Ken Davy, soon to play a leading role in the Town takeover saga, quits as chairman of DBS Financial management with its £75m sale to computer software group Misys

January 2003: Kirklees Council provides £250,000 loan to stadium company Kirklees Stadium Development Ltd which comprises Huddersfield Town, Huddersfield Rugby League Club and the council after Town fall behind with their share of the rent and loan repayments to the stadium company. KSDL chairman Sir John Harman says the loan will keep the stadium "on an even keel".

February 2003: Ken Davy sets up his new company, SimplyBiz, to provide support services to independent financial advisers

March 27, 2003: Speculation mounts that Ken Davy, already chairman and owner of the Giants, will take a controlling interest in Town to safeguard the future of the rugby club and the stadium. At this stage he has a 20% share on KSDL while Town and the council each have 40%

March 31, 2003: Town placed into administration at Leeds High Court

April, 2003: Ken Davy and former Town chairman Terry Fisher meet administrators Begbies Traynor to thrash out a deal to save the stricken football club. Former Town director Paul Haigh, who has been linked to a bid, says he is happy to step aside if the Davy-Fisher bid safeguards the future of Town. It emerges that the club has debts of £17m. Elland businessman Martin Byrne and Norwegian football agent Vidar Fossdal are also named as part of the Davy-Fisher consortium

May 14, 2003: Robert Pepper from the Huddersfield Town Survival Trust which has raised £100,000 towards saving the club, welcomes the prospects of the Davy-Fisher takeover, but hopes that fans will be given an active role, perhaps with a seat on the board

May 16, 2003: It emerges that Town’s debts include £800,000 in unpaid wages to players which the Professional Footballers’ Association, the players’ union,insists must be met in full under Football League regulations

May 30, 2003: The High Court grants the Davy-Fisher consortium extra time to complete its takeover package. The hearing is held in private with David Acland, administrator, saying: "There are aspects of the proposed purchase bid that we would prefer not to be discussed at this stage".

June 5, 2003: Supporters discover the extent of Town’s debts resulting from spending on high salaries for players and transfer fees under former chairman Barry Rubery. Debts of £19.6m include £12.5m owed to Mr Rubery; £805,000 owed to current chairman David Taylor; £1.25m owed to the Inland Revenue; £1.6m owed to KSDL and £804,000 owed in players’ wages. Under the Davy-Fisher proposals to buy the club, Mr Rubery and Mr Taylor are asked to write off their losses. Some 712 creditors and 854 shareholders are asked to accept the deal to bring the club out of administration. Mr Fisher says the takeover will "cost millions".

June 18, 2003: Almost 60 people attend a creditors’ meeting at the stadium to give near-unanimous support to the creditors’ voluntary arrangement which effectively writes-off much of the near-£20m debt. Mr Acland tells the meeting there are no other potential buyers

June 19, 2003: Ken Davy explains that the 517 bondholders who paid £375,661 in 2002 to buy four-year season tickets will lose them. He says the cash was swallowed up by the club’s near-£20m debts when it went into administration

June 26, 2003: Terry Fisher pulls out of the consortium, saying that as he is based in Spain he doesn’t fee he can give the commitment the job needs

June 30, 2003: The players’ wage bill is revealed as standing at £1.4m

July 31, 2003: Ken Davy completes the legal paperwork for the buy-out of the club. He confirms that Town’s stake in the stadium company "will remain unaltered" at 40%

August 7, 2003: Ken Davy unveils Town board of directors comprising Andrew Watson, Ralph Rimmer, Roger Armitage and Martin Byrne.

August 21, 2003: Kirklees Council take responsibility for paying £3m of the stadium company’s £7m bank loan to repay its multi-million debts

February 2004: Huddersfield Sporting Pride Ltd is formed to bring together Town and the Giants. The company is a successor to Huddersfield Rugby League Football Club (1994) Ltd of which Mr Davy is chairman and director

May, 2004: Town’s chief executive, Andrew Watson, pledges that the club’s future will never be jeopardised again and that Town will operate "on its own income".

May 31 , 2004: Town win promotion to Division II

August, 2004: Pharmaceutical company Galpharm Group signs a 10-year deal to sponsor the stadium

October, 2004: Ken Davy confirmed as Town chairman

April, 2005: Town and the Giants transfer their shares in KSDL to the newly-formed Huddersfield Sporting Pride Ltd. Ken Davy says the transfer would shield both clubs from any cash risk carried by the stadium company which has debts exceeding £8m. It means the clubs bear none of the costs of improving the stadium. Mr Davy says: "Part of the de-risking process has been to transfer the clubs’ shares in KSDL to a separate company so that if, in future, the stadium company requires extra funds, those calls will not fall on the clubs.’’

May, 2005: KSDL announces £900,000 investment to extend the stadium to provide a bigger sports store and box office. The work is to be personally underwritten by Ken Davy. It emerges that at the time of the administration, the administrator valued Town’s 40% share in KSDL at just £2: a figure reflecting the stadium’s £8m debts and the prospect that the club would have to forfeit its shares in KSDL if its liabilities to KSDL were not met.

Sept, 2006: Ken Davy issues a 1,700-word statement to "clear the air" over how the club is financed following claims among some fans that Town is losing out to the Giants

Nov 4, 2006: Twenty supporters hand out leaflets before Town’s home match against Scunthorpe United demanding answers to questions about the club’s finances in relation to the Giants, KSDL and Huddersfield Sporting Pride

December 21, 2006: Figures show that Ken Davy owns almost 100% of Town and 100% of Huddersfield Sporting Pride. In turn, HSP owns 60% of KSDL with the remaining 40% owned by the council.

December 29, 2006: Ken Davy reveals that he has pumped an extra £600,000 into Town during the past two months to meet its wage bill in the face of falling attendances.

August, 2007: Former Hull City chairman Adam Pearson expresses interest in buying Town. Ken Davy says he is "not in the market" to sell the club

Oct 4, 2007: Ken Davy says he has received initial proposals from Adam Pearson, but that Mr Pearson has no interest in the Giants or the stadium company, both of which are under Ken Davy’s control

Oct 10, 2007: Adam Pearson backs out, saying Ken Davy’s counter proposal offering him the chairmanship of the club and a minority holding is "unworkable." Pearson says he would have put £3.2m into the club. He goes on to become chairman of Derby County

December, 2007: Town reveal losses of more than £1m for the previous year

April, 2008: Greeting cards tycoon Dean Hoyle is named as the new owner and chairman-elect of Town. it is made clear that Town’s shares in the stadium company will not be handed back.

November 2008: It is stated that Dean Hoyle will take 70% control of the club at the end of the centenary season

December 2008: Town report a £1m loss for the second year running. It is revealed that Dean Hoyle will take 40% of an enlarged shareholding in the club. Ken Davy says he will continue to provide funds for the club for at least the next two years