Former Oxford United chairman Kelvin Thomas says he is still in talks to buy Northampton Town - but “only just”, in a detailed statement released this afternoon.
The radio station entrepreneur, who has not spoken publicly for over a fortnight, has assured fans of the League Two side he still wants to complete a deal.
But a lengthy statement has revealed Mr Thomas’s frustration with the pace of the proceedings, citing in particular current owners David and Anthony Cardoza as the cause of the delay.
It states: “Further to our previous statement we are still trying to purchase the majority shareholding of Northampton Town Football Club at this time, but only just.
“In what can only be described as an incredibly complex and challenging situation, we have worked diligently to try and bring a positive resolution, however events are transpiring that may show these efforts to be in vain.
“Our position has been clear to all parties from the beginning.
“We were interested in the future of Northampton Town Football Club and not the mistakes that have been clearly made in the past.
“We have been disappointed and saddened by what has happened to this Football Club.
“For a club to have been loaned £10.25 million over the past few years to find itself in this position is just unthinkable, and I am sure there will be some serious questions that will be asked in the coming months.
“That being said we are still very interested in taking the club forward but only on sensible commercial terms and up until today felt we had agreements in place.
“We agreed a deal with David and Tony Cardoza, and our lawyers have been working hard on a Share Purchase Agreement for weeks with Cardoza’s lawyers.
“We signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Northampton Borough Council, which is always subject to the relevant signatures and Cabinet approval from the Council.
“We have an understanding with Buckingham’s to complete the East Stand Development to hopefully include a conference centre.
“We have also met and liaised with the Supporters Trust and agreed to include them in the future of the club as part of our agreement with the Council.
“Following due diligence we are expecting to invest significant funding into the club to include paying all club staff, HMRC and other creditors, working capital, investment in the squad, and completing the East Stand. “We were not interested in the development land as we are businessmen with experience in football clubs, and not large scale developers that a project like that requires.
“We feel even though the club is currently losing unsustainable amounts of money with the East Stand development to potentially include a conference centre, with a renewed energy we could develop the club into a sustainable business model”
“It was also very important for us to conclude a deal prior to any insolvency event, as we did not feel that was in the best interests of the club.
“Points are hard fought for at the best of times in this league and to lose 12 at this stage would be very damaging for any promotion push.
“We have shown all parties including the Football League bank accounts with the required funds available and have set up Northampton Town Ventures Limited, which has £1 million for immediate transfer into the Football Club upon completion to take care of the short term issues.
“It was then our intention to stabilise the club and continue to support the staff and the squad, while we carried out our reviews from the inside and made decisions from there.
“We have had positive discussions with the Football League and we have already been approved under their Owners and Directors Test.
“Unfortunately it has taken too much time for David and Tony Cardoza to complete the Share Purchase Agreement and we are now stuck wondering if they really want to complete the deal as agreed.
“We are hearing that they have other interested parties and also that they possibly want the club to go into administration, and whilst we have no direct knowledge of this the length of time that it is taking to get this agreement across the line certainly questions any intentions.
“We are serious, well funded and excited about taking Northampton Town Football Club forward but if David and Tony Cardoza feel they can improve the deal with another party or admin is their preferred route then unfortunately that is there right.
“We do feel that introducing other parties at this late stage could be a very high risk strategy for the survival of the football club especially with very limited due diligence time on both sides.
“We have been incredibly impressed with the support that has been shown by the fans over the last few weeks and we really appreciate the messages and contact we have had wishing us well.
“It has been amazing to see the way the club staff and players have reacted to this situation, and testament to the professionalism and dedication of everybody that the club finds itself 3rd in the league, in the 2nd round of the FA Cup and an almost sell out crowd last Saturday.
“We still have the strong desire and ability to take this forward as we believe in the future of Northampton Town Football Club and we have done everything we can to make that happen, however given the circumstances we are becoming increasing concerned by these time delays.”
In response, David Cardoza said: “The deal with Kelvin to purchase the club has been rumbling on for an awful long time. During this period, a number of other interested parties have become involved.
“We are selling the club for £1, it is not about the money for us, it is about getting the best possible deal for the club going forward.
In response to the claim the Cardozas wanted to see the club going into administration he said: “We fully expect to have deal concluded well in advance of next week’s deadline.
“We absolutely plan to have a deal done well in advance.”
Councillor Mary Markham, Leader of Northampton Borough Council, said:“It is very disappointing to hear that the current owners of the club are prevaricating on plans to save the football club from administration, as we are all now operating on a very tight deadline.
“Northampton Borough Council has worked tirelessly to try to save the club. We have met all the parties introduced to us as prospective buyers and tried to support a deal that will put the Club on stable footing and protects the public purse. We hope that Mr Cardoza finally makes his mind up about the future of the Club soon, as time for a viable deal to be put together by all the interested parties before November 27 is running short.”
Leader of Northampton’s Labour Group, Councillor Danielle Stone, said: “As the Tory Councillors switch on Northampton’s Christmas lights, the lights at Sixfields look to be switched off.
“This is a shocking development.
“We are disappointed this has arisen, but in our opinion, this is only what we have come to expect from this situation.”