DEAN HOYLE cut through the heartbreak of Huddersfield Town’s play-off misery and pledged: “We must aim to be champions next time.”
The club owner promised to fund another shot at promotion after watching Lee Clark’s side lose 3-0 to Peterborough at Old Trafford in the League I play-off final and miss out on a potential £10m Championship windfall.
The chairman, who provided blue and white T-shirts for a 31,000 Town following in a crowd of 48,410, comforted players on the pitch after goals from Tommy Rowe, Craig Mackail-Smith and Grant McCann in the space of eight minutes ruined a record 27-match unbeaten run.
“I’m proud of everyone,” said Hoyle, who has bankrolled the club against big losses.
“There were plenty of tears and we are all gutted, but the players, management and fans gave it their all.
“It’s very disappointing right now and we’ll feel sorry for ourselves for a few weeks, but we’ve got to pull ourselves together and make sure we are champions next year.
“The bottom line is we need to aim for 100 points, forget about the play-offs and go for the automatic.”
He added: “It’s been Peterborough’s day and let them enjoy it, but this will only make us more determined.
“Our fans were unbelievable and they deserved promotion. So did the players.
“It said on everyone’s shirts ‘Believe’ and that’s what we have to do, because we will get there.
“We thought it would happen last year and we though it would happen again this year, but it hasn’t. That’s football and we have to take it as a lesson.
“Football isn’t all about highs. This was a hard lesson to learn but we will emerge stronger for it. We all will.”
Hoyle promised to try and keep the bulk of the squad together for 2011-12, when the likes of Sheffield United, Preston, Scunthorpe are on the fixture list along with promoted trio Chesterfield, Bury and Stevenage.
“I will do my best on the squad, but it’s going to be tough,” he explained.
“I’m sure there are one or two people who fancy a few of our players. We have people under contract and we will try and keep them, but that’s not always how football works, we know that.
“All I can say to the fans is that we are determined to keep moving forward. Some may think it’s a false hope but it’s not.
“I am determined to try next year and make sure we avoid the play-offs and nail it on the head with automatic promotion.”