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OFFICIAL - Neil Hart, New Chief Executive

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Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse

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Wanderers are expected to make an announcement on their new chief executive this week.

Neil Hart, the former Burnley CEO, has been strongly linked with the post, which has been vacant since the departure of Emma Beaugeard last year.

Andrew Gartside, son of late chairman Phil, had been covering most of the responsibilities last season and since he stepped down at the end of last season, chief financial officer Scott Lindsay had stepped into the breach.

Hart was at Turf Moor for 12 months as the football club’s CEO and had previously worked for six years as the head of Burnley’s community football programme.

Prior to joining Burnley, he had also worked at Watford and Luton Town, and had accepted a job at Huddersfield Town but did not take up the reins.

Confirming Gartside’s departure in a statement last week, Wanderers chairman Sharon Brittan said he was looking to spend more time with his young family.

“Personally, I cannot thank Andrew enough for what he did for the football club since his appointment,” she said.

“Andrew provided tremendous advice and counsel during the takeover, and his contribution over the past 18 months has been invaluable. He will be missed enormously!

“His lifelong passion for the club was evident throughout and I know that this will continue as he spends time with his family.

“Knowing Andrew, he will always remain in contact with us and he certainly won’t be a stranger.

“On behalf of the Board and everybody at the club, I wish Andrew and his family all the very best for the future.”

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This thing about Huddersfield doesn't impress me much - if you give your word you keep it in my world.

At the very least he should have gone in person to Huddersfield and spoke to them to see if they would release him from his commitment to them before signing another contract elsewhere.

From Huddersfield official website -

18 December 2019

A statement from Chairman Phil Hodgkinson

- Club Statement on Neil Hart
- Neil Hart has reneged on his acceptance of CEO role
- Comments from Chairman Phil Hodgkinson

Huddersfield Town can today confirm that Neil Hart has reneged on his acceptance of the position of Chief Executive at the Club.

Following a thorough process, the Club identified Neil as the preferred candidate to become its new Chief Executive and offered him the position, which Neil quickly accepted.

Neil requested that his acceptance of the position was announced publicly as quickly as possible, as his previous employer – Burnley FC in the Community – wanted to advertise for a replacement for his role of CEO.

Huddersfield Town understood and agreed, but only on the proviso that Neil signed his contract of employment with the Club before any announcement was made. Neil agreed, and signed this contract.

The announcement of Neil’s appointment as incoming CEO was made on 12 December 2019.

Subsequently, Neil contacted Huddersfield Town Chairman Phil Hodgkinson on the morning of 18 December 2019 and informed him that, following the announcement of Burnley CEO Dave Baldwin’s appointment as the incoming Chief Executive of the EFL, he had been offered the position of Chief Executive by Burnley Football Club; a position he had accepted.

Huddersfield Town Chairman Phil Hodgkinson commented:

“Neil’s decision, and the reversal of his signed commitment to Huddersfield Town, is incredibly disappointing.

“I’m a great believer in honouring a commitment once it has been made and that certainly is not the case with this situation. The Club is of the utmost importance, but I feel personally let down too.

“I’ve never had this happen to me in 25 years of working in business. In many ways football is a unique industry, but this is not acceptable to me or to our Club.”

Phil continued:

“Obviously finding the right Chief Executive is of paramount importance to the Club and we will carefully assess how we re-approach this process. We certainly won’t rush into an appointment on the back of this disappointment; we must get the right person in situ.

“In the interim, I will work closely with our excellent Board of Directors and staff to ensure that Huddersfield Town keeps moving forward.”

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Seems to me his background isn't that of a CEO in a football club but far. far more involved with community development - this from his previous job to Burnley -

Watford's Neil Hart joins Sean Dyche at Burnley

One of the senior members of staff from Watford's community trust has reunited with Sean Dyche at Burnley.

Neil Hart, who was head of community for Watford's Community Sports and Education Trust, had worked for the Hornets for almost a decade but has returned to the north, having orginated from Rochdale.

Watford's is one of the most highly-regarded trusts in the country and Burnley's, by their own admission, needs a lot of improvement to reach that level.

It is a challenge Hart is relishing in his role as the club's new head of community and he is expecting Watford's former manager to help him once again.

Hart told the Burnley Express: "I know Sean Dyche from my time at Watford and I think he and the players have a crucial role to play in this.

"We, as a club, have a real duty to get out there and do our bit for the community and I know Sean will be 100 per cent behind that because he was brilliant at Watford on the community side."

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Ten Bobsworth

El Hadji Diouf
El Hadji Diouf

'Andrew (Gartside) provided tremendous advice and counsel during the takeover'. Did he really?

I wonder what Sue Davies might have thought of that. Wasn't she the one who had to write off £millions from what was left of her late husband's lifetime earnings?



Bolton Wanderers are delighted to confirm the appointment of Neil Hart as the club’s new Chief Executive Officer.

Neil, who originally hails from Rochdale, takes up the position immediately having been previously the CEO at Premier League neighbours Burnley Football Club, where he spent seven years including a spell at the helm of the Clarets’ award-winning community programme, Burnley FC in the Community.

Neil established Burnley FC in the Community as a high impact charitable organisation building a highly competent team of people growing the charity to over 100 staff and driving multimillion-pound funding into the community programme which resulted in the acquisition and building of a number of community facilities in East Lancashire, with one being opened by former Prime Minister, Theresa May, in 2019.

The community programme delivered over 40 different projects engaging with over 33,000 individuals per annum. Neil then took on the Club CEO role in March 2019 and led the club through the challenges of the pandemic and supported with the ultimate takeover of Burnley FC in early 2021.

Prior to his arrival in East Lancashire, Neil played a leading role in developing a successful and highly-regarded community engagement programme at Watford FC over eight years with the highlight securing a single government grant of £4.2 million to build a state of the art community facility and he was instrumental in developing a broader portfolio of successful community partnerships.

Having left Turf Moor amicably in March, following Burnley’s takeover by an American consortium, Neil is looking forward to a new and exciting challenge at the University of Bolton Stadium.

He said: “As a founder member of the Football League, Bolton Wanderers has a rich heritage and history and it is an exciting time to be joining the club.

“With our ‘One Club, One Community, One Town’ vision, the Club is at the very heart of our community. We should always remember our roots and what the club, and indeed football, means to the town of Bolton and our residents.

“I cannot wait to get started and I’m really looking forward to meeting our supporters and working with the staff, Board, Manager and all our local businesses and community partners.

"This opportunity to lead Bolton Wanderers into an exciting future feels right. There is a huge opportunity for everyone at the Club to move it forward in a pragmatic way within a sound and sustainable financial framework.

“There is much hard work ahead and we are definitely up for that challenge - everyone at Bolton Wanderers will get 100% from me every day.

“For me, it’s about the collective and as a family I'm certain the journey ahead for us all will be an exciting and positive one.”

Bolton Wanderers Chairman Sharon Brittan said: “Neil has over 20 years of working in professional football and with a very strong background in community programmes he was the ideal candidate to lead Bolton Wanderers Football Club into an exciting future.

“Neil’s experience at the top level of football from his time at Burnley will bring enormous benefits to our football club and will serve us well going forward.

“He inherits some talented and loyal staff who all remain extremely dedicated to our supporters and the local community.

“Following a thorough recruitment process, the Board and I are delighted that Neil has accepted our offer to become CEO and we all looking forward to working with him.”

Ten Bobsworth

El Hadji Diouf
El Hadji Diouf

'Seems to me his background isn't that of a CEO in a football club but far, far more involved with community development'

That's the way it seems to me too, Sluffy. You don't think that Plan B is to move Bolton's Social Services to the Reebok or turn it into social housing, do you?



Ten Bobsworth wrote:'Seems to me his background isn't that of a CEO in a football club but far, far more involved with community development'

That's the way it seems to me too, Sluffy. You don't think that Plan B is to move Bolton's Social Services to the Reebok or turn it into social housing, do you?

I don't think the land has planning permission to build housing on it - otherwise I'm sure someone would already have gone down that path.

I certainly don't think the ST's Asset of Community Value on the stadium would have saved it!!!

I don't know why community development is such a main focus for FV, who is going to bother to trail all the way up to the Reebok for community 'events'?

You go to a football club to watch football - and these days you don't even have to do that and watch it on iplayer instead!

Even a capacity Reebok only holds something like 28,000 - and even then only when we are winning in the Premier League.

Even then, that's only what 30 times a year at most!

Society has change in recent years, more so under Covid - shopping is done more online, work is done more online too, so do you really need conference and training venues like those at the Reebok?

Are people like sales reps or work delegations still going to be travelling the country as much and need hotel accommodation as much as before?

I just can't see what FV's business plan is - never have done actually.

I simply can't buy into this 'one community' message - what does it even mean and how does it put money into the company to keep it going?

Surely it's going to need much more than that to sustain it?

Ten Bobsworth

El Hadji Diouf
El Hadji Diouf

I was being tongue-in-cheek, Sluffy, but Sharon doesn't half come over a bit saccharine with all this one town, one club, one community guff.

I don't know what the Plan A or Plan B has ever really been either except that Sharon fancied owning a football club, Mike James didn't want it to go the way of Bury and Bolton could be had for not much cash up-front with at least some security backing courtesy of the estate of the late Eddie Davies.

But, to be fair, she is at risk of losing a few bob on the enterprise, if not as much as Eddie's widow, and there was no-one else ready to take it on bar Monsieur Bassini.


Andy Walker
Andy Walker

I don’t agree, I think Sharon is a very perceptive business woman and even under ED, I never thought the facilities at the club were ever used to their maximum, or even minimum for that matter. The whole facility was built to be used permanently which has never been done. One thing I am sure of, is that businesses, particularly in sales, will continue to prefer face to face both internally and externally, to viewing over Zoom or similar. Customer facing staff will continue to operate much as before, other than possibly attending the office quite as much. On the football side, I genuinely believe that following a moneyball approach can provide significant income for the club if done properly. Burnley are in fact a good example of that and obviously if we can marry realistic costs with another stay in the PL, owning the club could be extremely profitable. It’s not easy and there are no guarantees of success but if IE can deliver on the pitch, I believe Sharon and Michael will make a nice profit on their investment.

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