Dear Trust member,
The year 2022 saw the Supporters Trust – the original Trust – mark its 30th anniversary with a number of celebratory events, rounded off by a free anniversary raffle thanking members for their loyal support.
But it proved a difficult year, with the Trust at loggerheads with NTFC’s owners David Bower and Kelvin Thomas over the sale and future use of historic community land behind the East Stand at Sixfields.
For five months, the Trust was a bidder for the freehold of the old athletics track land. That bid, however, has now been withdrawn.
Our backer reneged on a joint agreement and the fundamental change proposed was considered by the Trust’s board not to be in the best interests of building a progressive football club and complying with our core mission – the preservation of a professional League football club in Northampton.
The debate around the land has at times been unhealthy and my hope for this year, and future years, is that parties on different sides of any argument now commit to civil and constructive debate and dialogue. After all we all have the same goal, a better and stronger NTFC.
The board has nevertheless demonstrated commendable tenacity in seeking clarity around the intentions of the football club’s owners and, looking ahead, the Trust must continue to challenge if it is thought that the club’s interests – not necessarily the same as those of the club’s owners – are not being represented.
The Supporters Trust is not a Supporters Club. It is an important distinction to make and those of you with long enough memories will recall the late great Brian Lomax being thrown out of the County Ground by then NTFC chairman Michael McRitchie in 1992, because the club chairman felt that the Trust should be handing over money it had raised to the football club and providing unquestioning support.
That relationship was not acceptable then. It should not be acceptable now. The Trust is a shareholder of the club and entitled to ask questions of it and Trust members should expect nothing less of its board.
We have been discussing our evolving plans for an Infrastructure Foundation with Brian Lomax’s family and we are delighted to receive an endorsement from Catherine and Emily for the plans, which will have the club’s Community Trust at its heart.
And we are grateful for the support given to us by board member Ian Atkins during the last year - Ian always worked closely with the Supporters Trust when he was the manager at Sixfields in the late 1990s and his counsel on all matters football reform has been invaluable.
He has also generously donated shirts and training kit from the club’s Wembley years which we are looking to auction for a charitable cause later this year, 25 years after that famous win over Bristol Rovers and the second visit to Wembley.
Ian has learned a lot about the land issues at Sixfields during his time on the board and is fully supportive of our position, which is to ensure that the old athletics track land behind the East Stand is preserved for future club and community use benefit.
In closing, can I thank you for your support and ask you to extend that support to our fundraisers – Club 500 and Cobblers Travel - if you do not already do so.
The Ian Clarkson 1998 print is available for just £18 to Trust members – please email us if you are interested in making a purchase – and if you are on email and haven’t given us permission to use your email address, please do so and ‘opt in’. It makes life very much easier!
Our town, our club and your Supporters Trust. Up the Cobblers!
Andy Roberts, Chair, Northampton Town Supporters Trust
Please let us know your thoughts about the big issues facing the Cobblers and football in general.
You can do this either by emailing us at email@example.com
Or you can register for the forum on our website page at www.ntfctrust.co.uk
Topics for discussion are as follows:-
1) Sixfields infrastructure – the east stand, the north and south stands, safe standing, car parking, the old athletics track land, the club’s training facilities, the pitch, increased and improved conferencing facilities etc. What needs to happen at Sixfields?
2) Community ownership model for NTFC – is this something you would support should the club ever find itself in a deep financial crisis once more?
3) Sustain The Game – the debate over the future of football is very much live. How can clubs become more sustainable and less reliant on a big money investor? Is this realistic?
4) Accountability – the Trust, since its foundation, has insisted that a club’s supporters should be represented on the board of the football club. Is this still desirable? Should there be independent regulation to ensure that any club is governed and financed properly?
5) Transparency – clubs operate to different (but legal) standards when it comes to sharing governance and financial information with fans. While respecting that it would not be appropriate to share some information publicly, should fans be entitled to know who owns their club, what a club’s annual turnover is, the disclosure of transfer fees, the amount of commercial income for a season, the total cost of football expenditure?
Even just letting us know whether you broadly agree, are neutral or broadly disagree on each topic would be useful! Thank you.