The Trust wishes to update Cobblers fans about its exploration of a potential future community ownership model for Northampton Town FC.
We have listened carefully to constructive feedback following the successful public meeting which we held to discuss community ownership three months ago and, since the meeting on 10 March, a number of matters have given us concern.
It has become clear that several EFL clubs, notably Bury, are in significant financial difficulty. The private ownership model of clubs in the EFL appears to be in peril and the Trust believes wholeheartedly that now is the time to be looking seriously at hybrid community ownership for Northampton Town.
The number of new signings at Sixfields already announced has been very encouraging and bodes well for a successful 2019/20 campaign.
However, at the club’s annual general meeting at the beginning of May, it was revealed that NTFC made a loss of more than £2 million in 2017/18 and that a total of £5 million is now loaded against the club. While the Cobblers are still being funded by owner David Bower, the scale of the debt is a clear worry.
And plans to develop the East Stand at Sixfields, potentially enabling the club to build for the future, have not as yet been presented publicly.
All in all the club’s financial situation, coupled with the fact that it has minimal assets and a dysfunctional stadium, may make it an increasingly unattractive proposition for a prospective buyer.
However, the Trust is determined to futureproof a progressive, profitable and sustainable way forward for the club, in a fast-changing football industry, and is presently concentrating its work in three key areas.
· We are working with Supporters Direct to plot a financial route that will encourage local investors to commit to a joint venture as part of a hybrid ownership model.
· We have met with the Foundation of Hearts at Heart Of Midlothian FC to discuss their successful fundraising scheme designed to improve the club’s physical infrastructure. We feel that a foundation dedicated to the building of club facilities at the Cobblers is key to any future community ownership model and, indeed, its future success.
· We are also exploring a Sporting Club, also known as a multi-sports club, for Northampton, to draw on the town’s unique sporting strength and build still further the relationship between the principal sports clubs and organisations.
A revamped Trust website, due to come online next month, will enable Cobblers fans to debate community ownership and other topics in a forum that will encourage polite and constructive discussion.
And as part of our commitment to more effective engagement we will also be holding an open forum on Thursday 18 July, for all supporters to meet the Trust board and discuss our plans.
But the only way future community ownership plans can be realised is through open-minded co-operation by all parties concerned and, to that end, we look forward to future discussions with both the football club and Northampton Borough Council.