Bugeaters and Huddersfield Town AFC Enter Partnership Agreement

Bugeaters FC have never been accused of staying out of the spotlight, and this week the club has been making waves in the amateur game that may have far reaching implications. Having just announced that they were joining the Gulf Coast Premier League as the first club in the Great Plains Premier League Conference, the club has landed a partnership with a different type of Premier League - the English Premier League club, Huddersfield Town AFC.

Partnerships between international clubs and clubs in the United States have been seen before. MLS franchise FC Dallas has a partnership with FC Bayern München which has seen a few FCD players join the Bundesliga behemoths. At the amateur level, Chattanooga FC has a partnership with Wolfsburg while Detroit City FC has played friendlies against the likes of FC St. Pauli and Frosinone of the Italian Serie A. None of these partnerships though have the type of potential that Bugeaters’ deal with Huddersfield seems to possess.

Huddersfield rose to their position high up the English pyramid via the League One Promotion Playoffs in 2012 and then, following the appointment of German-American David Wagner in 2015, they reached the summit in 2017. The team had not had an influx of cash, or a mogul takeover, they relied on fantastic business and a commitment to developing their own academy talent to support their club’s rise. This season may have ended in disappointment but the club’s strength is in their foundations and their structure. The structure that can now support Bugeaters as well.

Obviously, Huddersfield Town will be in the English Championship next season, but this relegation does not diminish the impact of Bugeaters’ announcement. The focus of the partnership is at the Academy level, where the resources and facilities even at a second division level in England far surpasses most of what is available to professional teams in the United States. With the ability to share coaching and fitness training techniques, while also being able to focus on the analytics that drive effective player development, Bugeaters’ young players will have a more effective path to follow to reach the higher levels of the game.

When asked about this partnership and what it does as far as the profile for the club and its new league, Bugeaters’ President Jonathan Collura said, “This development agreement with the Terriers means that we are aligned with some of the best elite programs globally. It’s exciting to be able to see how a top English club manages its academy and enhance that system. The GCPL was built on development and I think that it shows that we are absolutely making advances as a league.”

The very foundations of the amateur game are built around giving players and coaching staffs an opportunity that would not have that opportunity otherwise. The benefit to a partnership like this is that the amateur players at Bugeaters will now have access to professional level coaching techniques that will also allow their coaches to develop beyond their current abilities. The partnership does not go all one way however.

The Bugeaters end of the deal allows Huddersfield’s younger players opportunities to pursue higher education in the United States if they so choose, while still being able to train and play football in the GPPL with Bugeaters. It’s a win-win for both clubs with opportunities in England potentially opening up for Bugeaters’ players and coaches through either this partnership, or Bugeaters’ sister club Bradford PA, which currently plays in the National League North, the 6th Tier of the English system.

So what is the ideal outcome of the partnership for Bugeaters? Collura explained, “[It] will be that we will have had ongoing discussions and communications, held mutual visits and completed extended development and placements in the US. If we both commit to it, it will no doubt be beneficial.” The benefits of the partnership are still to be seen, but the example set and the potential of this deal is massive and the landscape of amateur soccer in the US could be changing with Bugeaters’ help.

- Phil Baki