The Cobblers have been handed a huge financial boost with the news that Chinese company 5USport has purchased a ‘major stake’ in the club.
Kelvin Thomas announced the news on Monday saying it is ‘an exciting day for the club’, and confirmed that he will remain as chairman, and that ‘fundamentally the structure will not change’ at Sixfields.
Thomas also revealed that funds have been made available to increase manager Justin Edinburgh’s playing budget, with levels of investment being agreed to develop the east stand and other areas as well.
5USport are a sports development and education company which is based in Guangzhou in China, and CEO Tom Auyeung says the company have been striving to invest in an English club for the past 18 months.
He says no other club ‘ticked as many boxes’ as the Cobblers, and confirmed 5USport are not looking to make any chages to staffing at the club, saying he has ‘been impressed with the current leadership and staff at the club and we want that to continue’.
Auyeung says he is impressed by Cobblers’ ‘really strong fan base’, and that 5USport will ‘make an impact behind the scenes with the right strategic direction and investment’.
Northampton Town has a really strong fan base that was seen as a real positive when we were looking at clubs and we are looking forward to giving you something to cheer about on the pitch while also developing things off it. We want to win football matches and will be supporting Justin and his staff to help this area of the clubTom Auyeung, CEO of 5USport
The partnership has been approved by the Football League, with 5USport agreeing to buy a major stake in Northampton Town Ventures Limited, who own the majority shareholding of the Cobblers.
Town chairman Thomas, who took control of the club from David Cardoza in November, 2015, said: “This is a very exciting day for the club and is part of an overall investment strategy into the club from 5USport, which covers many areas.
“From our perspective, after taking over the club during those troubled times late in 2015, it has always been our intention to ensure that the club was well positioned financially, mainly so that it would never experience those times again, but also to continue to develop.
“We have always been open about how much we had to invest but what we found, especially following promotion, was for the club to really challenge in league one and beyond it made sense to find a partner.
“What we really liked about 5USport was their vision and intention, so we are very pleased to be able to form this partnership. 5USport want to invest in all the areas of the club on a sensible basis, but with a long-term view.
“This is not a short-term investment for them and we felt that was really positive for the club.
“Getting to know Tom Auyeung of 5USport has been enjoyable and we have been impressed with the desire to see Northampton Town prosper.
“He has a very strong interest in football and loves the competition.
“Fundamentally the structure will not change at the club as the stable environment was very important to 5USport, as was the history, culture and heritage of the club.
And he added: “We have agreed initially there will be an increase in the playing budget, plus also a budget for the purchases of younger players who can be developed and improved.
“We have also agreed levels of investment into other areas of the club including the east stand and other development areas.
“We are excited to explore the emerging football market in China and help develop potential revenue streams which will benefit the club.
“We have two coaches heading over at the end of this month to begin working on that project, meeting various clubs and education facilities to introduce the club.
“We feel this partnership offers Northampton Town Football Club a very exciting future.”
Auyeung said: “We have been looking at partnering with an English football club for about 18 months now. We have looked closely at others, but none ticked as many boxes for us as Northampton Town.
“We are very excited to be able to agree this partnership with David Bower (director) and Kelvin Thomas over the past few months, and we thank them for their professionalism and honesty throughout this process.
“We are not looking at making any changes in terms of the staffing and are pleased to announce Kelvin has agreed to continue in his role as chairman.
“We have been impressed with the current leadership and staff at the club and we want that to continue. We will make an impact behind the scenes with the right strategic direction and investment.
“We have a growing football and education division within our business in China and Northampton Town’s overall education philosophy really fits well, plus the relationship with the University of Northampton is exciting for us as we look to forge links between Northampton and China.
“We are also very passionate about the community aspect of the club and enjoy seeing the positive work in this area, plus also the development of young players through the Academy.
“Northampton Town has a really strong fan base that was seen as a real positive when we were looking at clubs and we are looking forward to giving you something to cheer about on the pitch while also developing things off it.
“We want to win football matches and will be supporting Justin and his staff to help this area of the club.
“There is so much interest in football in China and we are extremely proud to form a partnership with an English club with such a long history since the formation in 1897.
“We want Northampton Town Football Club to continue to be a leading light for the community and we will work hard alongside everyone to ensure this happens.”