EXCLUSIVE: Opposition calls for public inquiry into how £10.25 million Northampton Town loan went so wrong

Cobblers chairman David Cardoza

Cobblers chairman David Cardoza

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A full inquiry has been called for to investigate how the £10.25 million loan from the borough council to Northampton Town Football Club has not resulted in a new stadium.

The deadline for club chairman David Cardoza to pay back the money it borrowed to expand Sixfields back in 2013 passes today, and as of last night, both parties were yet to reach an agreement.

This morning the opposition Labour group on the council is calling for a public inquiry to allow fans to understand why, two years later, the East stand is still not finished and loan repayments to the council were being missed.

Leader of Northampton Labour Group, Councillor Danielle Stone (Lab, Castle) said: “I have now written to the external auditor asking them to carry out an independent public inquiry into the loan to Northampton Football Club.

“This is a decision have not taken lightly as I don’t want to do anything that jeopardises the football club.

“I have listened to many people, including Cobblers fans, and this is something they want to see happen.”

She added that “speculation, rumour and simple gossip” has surrounded the past two years.

“If the external auditor agrees, they can identify what should or shouldn’t have been done in retrospect,” she continued.

“There are lessons to be learnt here.

“We want them to investigate, amongst other things, if proper scrutiny of NTFC’s ability to repay was carried out, has the loan agreement been broken and the possibility of the financial risk involved being overlooked? Where has the money gone?”

Residents and Northampton Town fans had been calling for Sixfields to be expanded for more than ten years prior to 2013.

Councillor Stone said “the Sixfields matter” became a top political issue in both the 2007 and 2011 Borough Council elections.

However she admits the Labour Group “fully supported the loan at the time” and says that with hindsight “the whole Shadow Cabinet should have asked much more serious questions.”

The Conservative group on Northampton Borough Council has been contacted for a response.

Former borough council leader David Mackintosh, said: “I would support a public inquiry, and I am confident that it would show that all proper checks were conducted and that the process for approving the loan was followed properly.

“What is less clear is what has happened since the loan was approved, and it is not me or the Borough Council who has questions to answer over that.”

 

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