The Supporters Trust met with West Northamptonshire Council last night to express their concerns about the Sixfields land and stand deal.
The Trust remains far from convinced that the proposed deal is in the best long-term interests of the football club.
From the little information we have, it appears that the deal best serves the short-term interests of its overseas owners, David Bower and Kelvin Thomas. The Trust fears that the proposed deal will see any football club profits wiped out by the loan repaid to the owners, leaving the club with minimal investment benefit, no cash in the bank and no land asset.
The Trust told the meeting that any deal represented a very rare opportunity to finally move the football club, and the town of Northampton, forward. And we have asked the council to consider a partnership approach towards bringing forward an infrastructure foundation through which Cobblers fans, the club's owners and the local authority could invest monies and expertise to uplift the fortunes of the football club off the field as much as on it.
The prevailing lack of transparency around the current deal chimes alarmingly with the situation seven years ago, when millions of pounds of public money vanished on what was then Northampton Borough Council's watch.
The Trust would support and welcome any owner of the football club who clearly and openly demonstrates that he or she has the club's best long-term interests at heart.
- With regard to the incompleted East Stand, does £3 million really equate to value for money when it adds just 200 more seats, 18 executive boxes and some lounges?
- Why do the present development plans include building a logistics shed on the club's historic land footprint behind the East Stand which is protected as an Asset of Community Value?
- Do we not now not have a great chance to finally realise the potential of Sixfields stadium and build something much more impressive to benefit both the football club and the local community?
- Do we really have to have an industrial unit virtually up against the back of the East Stand?
- Why can't that land be appointed for say practice pitches, a training ground, an athletics or other community sport facility?
- Or a hotel, a conference centre, a fanzone - something with community benefit and income potential?
- Why another featureless unit to go alongside the others earmarked for the rest of the development site?
Northampton's sports teams are great assets for the town - they should be nurtured and valued and encouraged to help make the town the best it can be.
The town's local plan is as much about maximising a health and wellbeing strategy as it is about economic development. So many other football clubs are benefiting from progressive partnership working. Coventry, Leicester, Peterborough, Milton Keynes and Luton are all within a 50-mile radius of Northampton - and they are leaving Northampton behind.
For the largest town in the country this cannot be seen as acceptable.