Fans hurting once again as board and council clash

Earlier today, Northampton Town released a statement from Kelvin Thomas and the Cobblers board, stating that the lack of communication from Northampton Borough Council around the East Stand’s lease position has put them in a position where they have no choice but to step aside and formalise a sale of the club. It’s the culmination of yet another period where the club and council have been on completely different wavelengths with the latest delays the straw that broke the camel’s back for Thomas.

The statement made clear Thomas’ views that there are some individuals in the council who are standing in the way of himself and the board completing a process where the land adjacent to the East Stand, a critical part in negotiations around the Sixfields site, was to be surrendered to the club thus removing any possible conflicts in the future.

It appeared, from the club statement, that some in the council will not co-operate and instead prefer to stand in the way of what is best for the club. This has led to Thomas coming to the conclusion that the best and only route forward is to remove himself from the equation. Banging his head against a brick wall with a council that clearly has issues has reached a climax and it opens the door to even more complications.

The full statement is available here.

The council’s side of the story was released a few hours later.

The statement begins:

 “Progress on the East Stand has been very much within the gift of the football club, and since taking control of the development company CDNL in 2017, the chairman has been in a position to control further adjacent land.

“The council’s position is that no lease issues have held up this process. The owners had given the council assurances when taking on the club that they had ample funds immediately available for this work

“The council has consistently shown a willingness to facilitate this development and as recently as November 2017 provided draft documentation for the club to consider.”

It goes on to say that the proposed ‘further land’ was added to the original agreement by Mr Thomas and that this part of the conversation had to go through due diligence (due to the possibility of creating retail developments outside of the town centre) to ensure that members of the public get the best value.

The statement ended by saying that a paper is already in place to be brought to cabinet on June 13.

The question of this ‘extra’ piece of land throws the debate off on a new tangent and means that we’re once again left with more questions than answers on both sides of the coin. What is this extra piece of land that the council speak of? Why wasn’t this included in part of Thomas’ statement?

And as yet another saga over Sixfields drags out, we as the Cobblers fans and the ones who will be here through many more board members and many more councillors are the ones in the dark. The club is once again being pushed to one side for the sake of someone, somewhere making money or improving their own status.

I understand both sides of this coin but what’s striking is the lack of transparency from both sides. You can talk of every stakeholder and every interested party but the stakeholders that really matter, the ones who will pass this club down through generations and plough their money and life into it, are left confused and lost in a cloud while its future is decided behind locked doors. AGAIN.

We’ve been here too many times before. The Council, the board, the people behind the statements all need to sit down, put THE CLUB first and sort a solution where the club that has the potential to bring 40,000 of its town folk together at Wembley or to a title winning parade across its cobbled streets can thrive once again. Not as a business first, but as a positive community asset. That needs to be understood on both sides as quickly as humanly possible.

Walking the tight rope

sixfields

If things weren’t serious enough, we’ve now had a killer wound that’s threatening to completely alter the history of the football club we all know and love. The news last week that the council have demanded repayment of their £10.25 million loan is the latest in a long run of disasters that started with the half built stand that’s become a visible representation of the most frustrating and mysterious year of our recent history.

It’s the only time I can remember at least in the last ten years when results are becoming secondary to events in the secretive offices of Sixfields. There’s a lack of confidence from the council and, understandably, from the life blood of the club itself – the fans – and we once again pass through another week where the only noises coming from the chairman’s office are in retaliation to the biggest bullet that’s been sent his way so far. Deadlines have long gone and I’m now even further in the camp of those who have lost complete trust.

It all comes, ironically, when we’re somehow competing well enough in matches to keep ourselves within touching distance at the top of the League Two table. Coming so close to victory on Saturday against league leaders Leyton Orient is testament to the increasingly difficult job being done very well by Chris Wilder and the players in the midst of all of this uncertainty.

What good results do give us is something to grab on to and tonight’s game at AFC Wimbledon is another reminder that we have an outlet for our anger and frustration – by joining the players’ efforts from the terraces.

What comes next is anyone’s guess and it’s excruciating to say the least.

I can’t claim to know much of the insides and outs of everything – that you can find by digging through The Hotel End’s topics where more detailed accounts of events can be found – but what I do know is that this is a hugely significant part of our history one way or another.

Something that won’t change is the passion we have for our club and nowhere will that be more apparent that at the games that will ultimately shape the levels of ambition we have once this is finally all said and done. Whether we’re deducted points, put into administration or worse, the one constant will always be the unwavering support for the TEAM that’s come to the fore every time we’ve been in trouble or ahead of a huge game.

As well as making our voices heard in protest, let them be raised in unity with the players battling through this all, letting them know that we’re right behind them.

It’s the one thing we have left to control.