Wilder’s plea the perfect timing – now get this deal done!


I’m not sure what else can be said that’s not already been about this whole sorry saga but I was primed and ready – following yet another heroic performance by players living on the edge at Notts County on Saturday – to write something that would try to capture the mood once again. Then came Chris Wilder’s post-match interview that did my job for me. It’s unlikely that you’ve not heard it by now but here it is if not:


It’s very clear now if it wasn’t already that Wilder is one of the few that is actually ‘in the know’. He’s kept quiet and acted with extraordinary dignity for months now but on Saturday it was time for that barrier to rightly be broken.

Wilder’s words reflect how everyone is feeling a thousand times more than I could ever try to do but also gave us an insight into the Kelvin Thomas deal that’s hanging by a thread. The offer is clearly there and is a good one. Four local businessmen (Barry Stonhill, David Jackson, Barry Hancock and Brian Binley) have put together what Wilder calls the ‘rescue package’ and are likely waiting in the wings to get something done should the Thomas deal fall through.

David Cardoza basically holds the football club’s future in his hands and the time is now to stop messing with people’s livelihoods, agree a deal and get as far away from Northampton as possible. A petition has begun online and has attracted nearly 2,000 signatures as of today:


Chris Wilder’s passionate message on Saturday may yet be the biggest turning point in the sale of the club. No longer can Cardoza sit behind made up deadlines, fob anyone off or try to hide the facts. Wilder is one of the probably few people that has seen the proposal and it’s absolutely right that he’s come out and said what he knows.

His players and staff are performing miracles and all deserve to be at this club for years to come if and when this gets sorted out. This situation isn’t about league positions but to be third in the table in the midst of all this is sensational.

Now, though, is the time to make sure that the long suffering staff members are able to feed their families. Mr Cardoza, you are playing with people’s livelihoods and you know what to do to make that stop. If you truly do care as much about the future of the club as you say, you will get this deal done NOW.

Edit: Northampton Chronicle and Echo are reporting that a deal with Kelvin Thomas could be done TODAY. The words ‘promise’ and ‘David Cardoza’ don’t mean a lot any more but it’s something to cling on to (and refresh Twitter all afternoon for.) Please let this be it! 

The Darkest Hour?


On 6th March 1897, a group of school teachers gathered at the Princess Royal Inn on Wellingborough Road with local solicitor AJ ‘Pat’ Darnell to form Northampton Town Football Club. It’s up to the imagination to think of what sort of conversations were had that night but I’m taking a punt that most of it was about the town not having a professional club and how it needed one. Players were rounded up, plans were made and the town (teyn) was given something that it could treasure and hold on to as their own, something to unite communities and make the everyday man, woman and child dream vicariously through a bunch of blokes on a field.

THAT is football. What’s happening on this darkest of days some 118 years later is not.

That meeting in 1897 set the wheels in motion for what would become years of battling, a season in the sun, a rise and decline that could only happen to us, a decapitated but beloved ground (greynd), new horizons, a centenary Wembley moment for the ages, promotions and subsequent yo-yoing between the bottom two divisions and stand out victories against the odds, not just at Anfield.

Once again – THAT is the sort of thing those founders would have envisioned. What we now have is the actions of a few people who a) have got themselves in a complete financial mess and b) continued to put out messages along the lines of “ah, it’ll be alright by next week/two weeks’ time/next month” threatening to destroy 118 years of history thanks to mismanagement of what has sadly become a business. When I saw this morning’s latest revelation that HMRC have launched a winding up petition against the club for unpaid taxes, it felt like not just my own heart being ripped out but the heart of our football club being grabbed and tossed over the shoulders of men in increasingly sweaty suits.

I’ve followed this club since around 1990-1991 so came into things at a difficult time yet fell in love with the football, knowing little of what was going on behind the scenes. I was lucky enough to be born in good time to witness the two Wembley finals and all that followed. I was drawn to local heroes like Andy Woodman, Ian Sampson, Ray Warburton, Sean Parrish and the one and only Neil Grayson. It makes this year around 25 years of following the club.

That’s a small chunk of its existence and everyone reading this will have their own special memories and histories. That also means that there’s generations and generations before them who have watched their own memories unfold. Children who despaired at George Best running riot grew up to take their children to see the glorious 1987 Division Four winning side and then those children took their own wide eyed young ones to witness Scott McGleish head us into League One in 2006.

Is any of this going through the minds of the people making the big decisions at this very moment? Mr Cardoza – are you waking up every day trying everything you can to save the club that have brought all of this to the people of this town and beyond? Or are you waking up thinking about your own future?

This might seem overly dramatic but we’re in serious territory now, if we weren’t deep in it before. The moment you see the letters HMRC you know something is seriously up. This is very different to dealing with a local council who can be talked around. They most certainly won’t hesitate in taking us to the cleaners. And I’m sorry Mr Chairman, but spinning things out for another week where you can have breathing space isn’t good enough.

It’s interesting to note that Cardoza continues to release statements AFTER news has been revealed by a third party like the council or HMRC. Had his hand not been forced, would we all have been left to find this out by ourselves? He’s got himself into one heck of a hole no matter how comparatively small the amount we owe HMRC is. The council will now have no choice but to up their own efforts in recovering the £10.25 million that was due to be paid back by today.

Once again some of the most loyal and passionate supporters, who pay into the club week in and week out in numerous forms, are left to play a waiting game and to get strung along for another week while behind very closed doors the future of a football club created by people who just wanted to give the town a club to call their own is hanging by the tightest of threads.

The heroes

What has to be said in the middle of all of this is that the players and staff have been nothing short of heroic. As all around them collapses the Cobblers somehow won 3-2 at Wycombe, genuine League Two title contenders, and then again at home against Hartlepool to make it six unbeaten in the league. Chris Wilder and the players who are producing incredible results with this backdrop deserve so much more credit and coverage (I know this is ironic being at the bottom of this particular blog entry!).

We’re currently – and stress the word currently with the real possibility of docked points – sit just two points off a place in the top three of the division with a squad that has come together and put everything else out of their minds. It seems to have had a unifying effect and long may that continue because if we do come through this they’ll be ready for whatever’s next.

Somehow, we must find joy in following the battle on the pitch – it’s the only thing that can suspend our worries for ninety minutes at a time.


Changing of the guard…

Northampton-Town-chairman-David-Cardoza_2550286We interrupt this pre-season for a blockbuster piece of news.

You’ll all know by now about the biggest summer bulletin in years that David Cardoza has begun the process of selling his controlling share of Northampton Town Football Club. What’s been agreed is a ‘Heads of Terms Agreement’ which admittedly I needed my friend Google for:

“Heads of terms are a set of agreed principles which precede the signing of a negotiated contract, and which the parties intend to be reflected in the written contract. They set out the basis of the deal in broad terms.”

So basically it’s a deal in principle and no i’s have been started to be dotted or t’s crossed as yet. But it’s still an announcement that’s knocked us all a bit for six and I don’t know what to think of it without seeing a statement of intent or interview with the potential new owners. We know nothing of who the Indian Consortium comprises of or where their interest in our club comes from. What’s key for me is that ANYONE taking overall control needs to understand who we are, where we’ve come from and will need to reassure us that the history that we’re built on will form the foundations of the new era.

It’s a strange position changing complete ownership of a club, especially when we’re in pretty solid condition in comparison to when the Cardoza’s initially took over. Back then we were praying for simply anyone at all to take us on and move us forward but this time (and this is testament to some of the work done by Mr Chairman) it’s more of a nervous changing of the guard from comfortable groundings to the complete unknown.

If this was a new manager coming in, I’d be asking potential candidates what they know about the football club – who dived into the snow in a dramatic celebration in front of the North Stand? Who are ‘Razor’ ‘Sammo’ and ‘Big John’? What on earth WAS Ian Clarkson doing that far forward to score against Bristol Rovers? OK, maybe Mr Clarkson is the only one who really knows that last one but you get my gist. We can’t ask incoming owners the same questions but that’s the type of things I’d want to know before signing over everything I’ve worked on for twelve years.

It’s all about the identity of the club and that’s what I worry most about in this situation. We’ve seen plenty of clubs struggle after initial periods of joy from a takeover under owners who just don’t seem to have a clue about the rich history of the ‘business’ they’re taking over. I can honestly say that I don’t care a jot about the size of any potential new owner’s bank balance – but if they can reel off the 1997 Wembley team at a second’s notice… that’s when we can start talking!

What cannot be allowed to happen is for Northampton Town Football Club to become another club who sell out to a group who just want to build a business for personal gain and not something that serves its community, keeps a powerful connection between players, staff and fans and is transparent in its intentions.

Time will tell and the next few weeks will be huge to the future of the football club once we’ve discovered more.

What also should be acknowledged is Cardoza’s work and investment over the last twelve years. We were almost at death’s door as I remember it twelve years ago and while there’s been a few slip ups, the majority of the time we’ve been a well-run club at this level. Managerial appointments have all looked very good on paper and it would have been very difficult to find better options around than Gary Johnson and Aidy Boothroyd at the times of appointment. Though it took time, the stadium is slowly getting there and, in sometimes difficult positions, he’s come out and given as much information as possible barring some bits and pieces in the last few months.

There will undoubtedly be some who disagree, some who worry, some who welcome the news with open arms. But what we’re all united in is a love for the Cobblers. A love that for some stretches back 60, 70, 80+ years and for others is in its youthful development. It’s a love that simply has to be matched, in some parts at least, by anyone coming in to take over at the helm.

Let the fun begin…