So, it happened eventually. A club came in and met the valuation we put on our star striker and lured him to the other side of the Pennines. That club was Blackburn Rovers, and that valuation was £8 million. Yep, EIGHT MILLION. For a striker unproven above the third division. Huddersfield Chairman Dean Hoyle said it would take a crazy offer to lure the 22 year old Scottish international away as we weren’t in a position where we had to sell the player. For once, we were the club in control, and we got every penny we could out of the chicken farmers.
That doesn’t mean I’m happy with what transpired on the penultimate day of the transfer window, far from it. While it breaks the club record for a transfer fee received, and by some distance, will it ultimately cost us on the pitch in terms of our place in the second tier?
The biggest annoyance for me is the timing of the sale. It brings back horrible, horrible memories of twelve years ago, when we sold Marcus Stewart to Ipswich Town for our previous record fee of £2.7m (the same fee we also received from Sheffield Wednesday for Andy Booth). At the time, Ipswich were a promotion rival of ours, and Stewart went on to score the winner on his debut against… yep, us! He went on to get promoted that season with the Tractor Boys, and we went into a near-terminal nosedive which saw us end up in administration and the fourth tier, a situation from which we have only recently recovered.
Now, I’m not saying that this will happen again, far from it. In Mr Hoyle, we have the best possible chairman for our proud club; a lifelong fan who was a season ticket holder before he was the chairman, and who has ploughed millions into the club and the team to try and get us into the Championship. So it does seem a little strange that, having finally achieved this dream, he then sells the one player who would net the goals to keep us up and possibly push us into a comfortable position in the division, and sells him without giving his manager enough time to sign a replacement. Of course, he would have been plain daft to turn down the offer from Blackburn, who finally got their man at the fourth time of asking. This does of course show Mr Hoyle’s business acumen that saw him sell his Card Factory business last year for somewhere in the region of £400million. He set a value, and did not waver from that value, not for one second. I certainly do not begrudge him cashing in on his prized asset, as it still will only scratch the surface of the huge outlay he has endured in his four years at the helm. Similarly, I don’t for one second blame Rhodes for taking the thirty grand a week on offer.
However, as fans, we don’t appreciate such things; we don’t like seeing our club sell our star player, and certainly not to a club in the same division, even if the circumstances are different this time to twelve years ago. And we certainly don’t like it when we don’t sign a player to replace the one we’ve just sold. To be fair, Simon Grayson didn’t have much time to sort out a replacement, and apparently we were close to a couple of loan deals, but a huge amount of goals has been ripped out of the team, and that is worrying. We did sign James Vaughan on loan from Norwich, and he has just netted his first goal in the 2-2 draw at Ipswich, but I’m not sure he has twenty goals in him for the season.
Grayson and Hoyle did do everything they could to get players in, the most likely signing looked to be Jermaine Beckford, but the stumbling block was that Leicester wanted a permanent deal, while we wanted a loan. We are now left hoping that Grayson can work his magic and keep us in midtable, and maybe that money will be available in January should we need it.
Written by James Bartaby, We Are Going Up’s Huddersfield Town blogger
James tweets at @jamesb5374