Northampton Town Supporters’ Trust has announced it is to investigate fan-ownership models for the Cobblers, writes Tom Reed.
The move comes after the organisation, which democratically represents fans of the Sixfields club, held a post-AGM forum with fan-ownership specialists Supporters Direct in attendance.
The Supporters’ Trust, formed in 1992, were the first ever Supporters Trust, created after a cash crisis during the Michael McRitchie era. After delivering the Cobblers safely into community hands, the late Brian Lomax went on to set up national supporters’ organisation Supporters Direct to spread the fan-ownership ethos internationally.
Now it seems the Trust are open to return to their pioneering roots.
Cobblers Chairman Kelvin Thomas has been listening to offers for the Cobblers but to date no deal has been finalised publicly.
Last week, the football club and Northampton Borough Council released a statement on the stalled redevelopment of Sixfields stadium and plans for surrounding land.
Both parties noted “positive discussions” but little further details have been provided bar that dialogue has included land nearby to the Sixfields stadium controlled by County Developments Northampton Ltd. CDNL’s two active directors are Cobblers Chairman Kelvin Thomas and fellow Director David Bower.
The Trust’s statement labels the “secrecy” surrounding the Sixfields negotiations as “far from ideal” while stating that the supporters’ group would “welcome the opportunity to be involved in more detailed discussion at the earliest opportunity”. So far, no visual plans have been publicly released for the completion of the East Stand nor other developments on surrounding land at Sixfields.
The verdict of the civil Court case between NBC and Tony and David Cardoza, former owners of the Cobblers is due on Thursday and the Supporters’ Trust hope the spotlight on the Cobblers will encourage transparency regarding the stadium saga.
Fan-ownership, operating successfully at clubs such as Newport County and Exeter City in the same division as the Cobblers and AFC Wimbledon a league higher, is a subject that the trust believe could tackle the issue of a sustainable football club for years to come.
A public meeting is in the pipeline and time will tell if community centred fan-ownership can provide a positive legacy for what has been a very difficult period in the club’s history.
The supporters’ trust statement is as follows:
NTFC Supporters’ Trust is to hold a public meeting to discuss community ownership models for the Cobblers.
The meeting will be held in the near future and further details will follow shortly.
It is our intention to assess community ownership models, including hybrid public/fan ownership, that are a suitable fit for Northampton Town Football Club.
The Trust requests that:-
· the football club bears this in mind with regard to any negotiations to sell the club.
· all potential purchasers of the club consider a hybrid private/fan-owned model for the football club and the opportunities that this presents.
· Northampton Borough Council acknowledges the Trust’s intention to investigate community ownership models for the football club in relation to its negotiations with the club over Sixfields stadium and the surrounding land.
With regard to last week’s joint statement from the football club and the council, it is encouraging that positive discussions are continuing and the Trust fully appreciates that both parties are dealing with a complex situation.
However, the secrecy surrounding the negotiations is far from ideal and the Trust would welcome the public release of more detailed information at the earliest opportunity.
With the verdict of the Council’s civil case against the football club’s former owners David and Tony Cardoza due shortly, public scrutiny will again fall on our town and club.
We would remind the council that, for this reason alone, any deal with NTFC/CDNL is clearly in the wider interest of not just the Trust but the taxpayers in general and, as such, it should be open to public scrutiny.
Northampton Town Supporters’ Trust is the democratic supporters’ organisation for fans of Northampton Town FC. Members of Supporters Direct and the Football Supporters Federation.