Are Huddersfield prepared for their top flight return?

Date published: Wednesday 31st May 2017 11:26

Huddersfield have not been in English football’s top flight since 1972 and the league they rejoin in August is not the one they left 45 years ago.

Once the open-top bus tour is over, the players can go on holiday but the hard graft continues for Huddersfield’s back-room staff, with the Premier League’s broadcast team having made a first visit on Tuesday and a formal induction to look forward to on Thursday.

Here, TEAMtalk picks out a few areas from the Premier League’s weighty club handbook which may cause any newbie a few headaches.

STADIUM

The Premier League bible has 32 pages of rules related to clubs’ grounds but Huddersfield should have no problems in this regard, as the award-winning John Smith’s Stadium is only 23 years old and has staged several international rugby league and rugby union games. The Terriers share the venue with Super League’s Huddersfield Giants and must have primacy over fixtures. But this was the case in the English Football League, too, and there have been no double-bookings.

IN THE STANDS

The John Smith’s Stadium has 24,000 seats, all with unimpeded views and cover from the elements, which will please the Premier League. The ground regulations have been published and the safety certificate is up-to-date, so more ticks there. Currently, the handbook only has one sentence on the provision of “sufficient and adequate” facilities for disabled supporters but all Premier League clubs are under pressure to significantly improve access and facilities in this area.

UNDER THE STANDS

Every club must ensure visiting teams get clean toilets and showers, as well as a changing room of at least 30 square metres. Again, not a problem for a stadium which hosts rugby teams. It must provide suitable facilities for match officials and a room for anti-doping staff, too. A clear security plan for all visitors, including broadcasters, is also required.

PLAYING SURFACE

The Premier League wants pitches to be 105 metres by 68 metres and Huddersfield can accommodate that with room to spare. The stadium also has the required under-soil heating and there should be no difficulty in setting the mowers to the prescribed 30 millimetres for each blade of grass.

GOAL-LINE TECHNOLOGY

With the English Football League not rolling this out until next season, Huddersfield has not needed the camera-based system until now, although it was installed for the play-off semi-final against Sheffield Wednesday with no issues reported.

MEDIA FACILITIES

This is probably the biggest challenge any new Premier League club faces, as the list of requirements is remarkable. For example, there are 14 different locations – commentary positions, pitch-side TV presentation areas, press seats and so on – clubs must ensure have sufficient internet connectivity. It must also provide 70 seats for post-match press conferences, 50 seats for reporters to watch the game and 20 places for photographers. Domestic TV commentary teams get three seats each, overseas teams just two, with minimum space requirements for laptops and monitors. Each ground must have two studios with windows which overlook the pitch, five places for cameras in the tunnel and 20 spaces for broadcasters in the car park. The club must also provide refreshments to this media army before the game, at half-time and afterwards.

MEDIA ACCESS

There is no such thing as a free lunch for the clubs, though, and those multi-million-pound cheques for broadcast rights come with strings attached. The handbook goes to great lengths to explain how often clubs must let the media speak to their manager and players. Domestic and overseas rights-holders submit two-man shortlists of players they want for interviews in the week before games and afterwards. And clubs must put at least one of them up, with every player doing at least five preview interviews a season, although no player has to do consecutive weeks and clubs can get four-week exemptions. This merry-go-round of requests could start within weeks, as the Premier League holds a big pre-season media event with at least one of the promoted clubs.

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