Huddersfield have been fined £50,000 after admitting a charge relating to the Football Association’s kit and advertising regulations, the governing body has announced.
The Terriers were widely criticised for a sash-style shirt which bore the logo of a bookmaker when they unveiled it as their new home shirt in the middle of July.
They wore the shirt in a friendly against Rochdale on July 17, with the logo appearing to exceed the FA’s guidelines of 250 square centimetres, and were subsequently handed a misconduct charge by the governing body.
Town and the bookmaker later admitted to the stunt before the Championship club brought out a new, sponsor-free kit for the current season.
On Thursday the FA confirmed the club, relegated from the Premier League at the end of last season, had been officially sanctioned for the stunt.
“Huddersfield Town FC has been fined £50,000 and warned as to its future conduct by an independent Regulatory Commission after admitting a charge in relation to The FA’s Kit and Advertising Regulations,” a statement from the FA read.
“Playing kit worn by the club’s first team during a pre-season friendly against Rochdale AFC on 17 July 2019 breached FA Regulation C.2(i).”
The FA’s written reasons behind the decision included a signed witness statement from match referee Martin Coy, who revealed Town chairman Phil Hodgkinson had asked him to ban the kit, which “could then potentially be good publicity and part of the advertising campaign.”
Coy’s statement read: “He said that the kit was not actually their real kit and it was all part of an advertising campaign.
“He said that he did not want the squad to wear the kit as The FA had informed ‘HTFC’ by phone call that it would be a breach of their regulations.
“He said that he was new to the chairman role, this being his first game and he didn’t want to be charged by The FA.
“He said that he wanted me to ban them from wearing the kit and said that my decision could then potentially be good publicity and part of the advertising campaign.
“I was uncomfortable with this and felt it was not my place to ban the kit outright, but I informed them that I would recommend they followed the rules and advice from The FA. I also stated that I did not want to be part of any publicity.
“At this point the chairman said that the team would not wear the kit and I would not be part of any advertising.”
The FA contacted Huddersfield’s operations manager Ann Hough over the matter.
Her reply revealed the shirt was a one-off ‘spoof’ and had been kept from the Huddersfield board until the day of the match, with the club’s case “that apparently no thought was given to the FA’s kit regulations as it was assumed or presumed they did not apply to pre-season friendlies.”
Huddersfield were informed on the afternoon of the match by the FA that if worn, it may take action against the club.
It had been decided a training kit would be worn instead, but when the bookmaker was informed Hodgkinson, according to the FA’s written reasons, said: “We were threatened with legal action and the sponsor said that it would be deemed to be a material breach of the sponsorship agreement if the team did not wear the oversized logo.”
The Terriers chairman added: “This is an unfortunate event but we accept responsibility and offer a full apology.”
The FA was also told the club’s official kit for the season would not feature the sponsor’s name, but had not received any account from the bookmakers.
The written reasons added: “The blatant nature of the advertisement garnered much media attention and, to use the colloquial phrase, ‘the damage was already done’.
“Whilst betting companies are currently permitted to advertise on kits, the FA submits that the decision to enlarge the advertisement in such an overt manner was irresponsible, particularly in the current climate regarding gambling.”
In reply to the FA’s submissions, Hough said: “In hindsight, the club may have got this decision wrong, however, at the time, and under time pressures, we felt that the ramifications (not just financial) of litigation were potentially very damaging to the club and this affected our judgement.”