Cobblers FA Cup tie could see highest away attendance in years - amid fears it could be the last

Close to 2,000 tickets have already been sold for Cobblers' away clash with Coventry tomorrow. Meanwhile club staff are carrying on defiantly despite not being paid on Friday.
Close to 2,000 tickets have already been sold for Cobblers' away clash with Coventry tomorrow. Meanwhile club staff are carrying on defiantly despite not being paid on Friday.

More than 2,500 Cobblers fans are expected to travel to Coventry for the club’s FA cup tie this weekend in what many fear could be Northampton Town’s last ever away game in its current form.

While more than 200 staff, including groundsmen, stewards, back office staff and club shop workers remain unpaid at Sixfields today, the club’s shop is still firmly open for business and close to 2,000 advanced tickets have already been sold for the Cobblers’ FA Cup clash at the Ricoh Arena tomorrow.

Team manager Chris Wilder is among the Cobblers staff not to receive a pay packet last Friday.

Team manager Chris Wilder is among the Cobblers staff not to receive a pay packet last Friday.

Although it would be the worst case scenario - on November 16, the club established in 1897, could cease to exist if it is wound up at the High Court.

Northampton Town owes the taxman £166,000 and if the deal with frontrunner Kelvin Thomas cannot be done, it would either need to find some way of paying the debt to the HMRC or to seek an adjournment from the High court to stave off liquidation.

Sources have assured the Chronicle and Echo that a “plan B” is in place to stop the club from being wound up, should Kevin Thomas’s bid fall through.

But currently nothing is certain and through the doubt, staff are trying to remain positive.

Club shop manager Wendy Lambell, who was busy at work today despite not receiving her wage on Friday, said: “We are loyal to the club, that’s what it’s all about.

“If we don’t come in to work, it will all fall apart.

“If it was any other industry, if we worked at Sainsbury’s say, and we weren’t being paid, we wouldn’t come in.

“But when we are talking about the football club it’s different.”

Ms Lambell said supporters have offered to help out the staff with donations, others have bought them flowers and cakes.

Northampton Town’s communications officer Gareth Willsher, said staff are trying to maintain a sense of “business as usual” despite the off-the-field crisis.

He said: “What the club needs now is for the staff to just carry on in a way.

“We are doing our best to help, so that when the club does come though all this, it is in the best possible shape.”

Chief executive James Whiting said that despite the high spirits, staff are “disappointed” to find the club in such a dire state, when it was only two years they were celebrating a £12 million loan deal and the prospect of a stadium expansion.

He said: “Everyone is disappointed. We all felt in 2013 when that first ground was being broken, we expected a fantastic new facility here. We all wanted the same things that fans wanted.

“But it’s been a difficult couple of years here.”

At Monday night’s special council meeting of Northampton Borough Council, the leaders of the authority were asked whether they would consider objecting to the winding up petition against Cobblers a the High Court.

A council spokesman said: “We have contacted HMRC through our advisors and discussions have taken place (on Wednesday), which we will be following up with them”