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Gripped by the Cobblers: Sitting on our hands about safe standing would be a mistake after huge FA Cup windfall

Tom Reed thinks a cup windfall should be spent wisely

It’s not often you see a Cobblers’ fan supporting a team in blue but that was the case on Wednesday night as Town supporters cheered on Cardiff City in pursuit of a 250k FA Cup bonus.

The Bluebirds from South Wales saw off Carlisle meaning Cobblers were handed a sweet quarter of a million bonus by the FA for being the last League 2 club standing in the FA Cup.

By our calculations, Cobblers have netted over £650k from their cup adventures so far, probably the single biggest cup windfall in the club’s history. Now, the club’s Chief Exec James Whiting, a trained accountant, faces the quandary of how to spend the cash, with all and sundry no doubt turning up to his office with an opinion. 

Down at Exeter City, currently second in League 2 and considered one of the EFL’s most progressive clubs they use such windfalls on a 1/3 1/3 1/3 basis. 1/3 goes on the club’s physical infrastructure, another 1/3 back into the team and then a further 1/3 back into club coffers. 

It’s a sensible approach that Cobblers would do well to emulate. They won’t have a similar chance to invest in the club’s stadium and team for a while so it’s vital the money is spent wisely. Some have called for the money to go on finishing the incomplete East Stand but in truth £650k won’t touch the sides on that project and in any case the club are seeking an enabling land deal to complete the stand.

In that light, safe standing emerges as a fantastic use of a moderate proportion of the cash. For around 100k the club could install the latest technology rail seating safe standing to the whole of the North Stand, turning it almost overnight into one of the finest standing areas in the EFL. Rail seats, individual standing rails with lockable tip-down seats are a fantastic piece of kit and would future proof the club against moves up the divisions. You only need a trip to Celtic Park to see the benefits of safe standing with the Glasgow club’s rail seat area being oversubscribed and making one hell of an atmosphere. You’d imagine the limited area the club have been looking to install their own basic rail system would cost even less.

Throw in another £50k and you could install a superb fans’ village behind the North Stand and make the Cobblers a place that is truly attractive to the next generation of fans who want to support the club in a positive and passionate way. 

Cobblers can’t compete with the top clubs in terms of super stadia but they can in terms of encouraging fan culture and a great atmosphere. It’s a no brainer. 

There seems to be a sticking point about a certain number of fans who have indicated that they would walk away from the club if safe standing was introduced to an area where they currently sit. You’d like to think that with the right compensation and education as to the benefits of safe standing, longstanding fans would continue their loyalty to the club in an alternative seat and let the club offer a fair choice of whether to stand or sit safely as they do to great success at the Saints.

That would leave a healthy £500k to be split equally between the playing budget and for the club coffers. What you would get is an instantly upgraded stadium, an improved team and some money back into the kitty which would be a good legacy for such a fantastic cup run, one which isn’t over yet.

Ooh la la, Aaron Pierre bringing the je ne sais quoi to Shrewsbury

There were gasps of amazement at Salop the other night as Ex-Cobblers defender Aaron Pierre smashed in a long range FA Cup goal to beat Bristol City. The strong centre-back joined League 1 Shrewsbury for an undisclosed fee in June of this year with some Cobblers fans debating whether or not he was up to League 1 standard. 

That debate has been put to bed it seems with Pierre’s superlative left foot strike that saw off the Championship Robins. Pierre’s performance drew plaudits from the local and national press with one writer asking of there is a better defender in the lower leagues than Pierre? Some Cobblers’ fans may argue that Town’s triumvirate of Charlie Goode, Scott Wharton and Jordan Turnbull are on a similar level but Wharton is only on loan and will leave a large hole when he eventually leaves.

On this occasion we have to admit we let a very good player go in Pierre and the pain will double if reported interest form higher divisions comes to fruition with the associated hefty transfer fee.

Cobblers have to get themselves into a position where they are serious players in the transfer game, accessing the really serious fees and where Shrewsbury isn’t considered a step up.

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