Fears stewards and staff at Northampton Town are close to “breaking point” after three weeks without pay

Club sources fear there could be walk-outs soon if staff at Sixfields are not paid.
Club sources fear there could be walk-outs soon if staff at Sixfields are not paid.
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Sources within Northampton Town fear the club might soon have to play games behind-closed-doors if staff go much longer without being paid.

About 200 non-playing staff of the League Two side are now entering their fourth week without a pay packet.

Northampton Town’s bank accounts remain frozen after the HMRC launched a petition to wind up the club as a result of £166,000 of unpaid taxes, however it is understood no one has tendered a resignation so far.

But communications officer at the club, Gareth Willsher, said there was a concern that situation “cannot remain the case for much longer”.

He said: “The main operational problem is that obviously staff haven’t been paid. That includes the match day stewards.

“The last few weeks we have been relying on the goodwill of our staff, and the stewards in particular.

“Obviously there is a breaking point somewhere.

“In order to operate home games effectively and to open the gates we clearly need staff and stewards, so we really need this resolving quickly.”

Sources within the club say there are “genuine concerns” that, should staff have to continue without pay for much longer, their could be walk-outs.

The concerns extend to the fact that an exodus of match-day safety stewards would mean the promotion-chasing side, currently third in League Two, would have to play behind closed doors for safety reasons.

The St John Ambulance, which provides general medical cover to the crowd on match-days, is also set to continue for the time being, despite rumours the charity would be withdrawing its support.

The last players’ pay packet was paid by the Professional Footballers’ Association.

Now, all eyes are still firmly fixed on former Oxford united chairman Kelvin Thomas, being able to sign a takeover deal for the club in the next few days and make arrangements to pay the staff as soon as he does.

Until then, Mr Willsher said the staff were at a desperate stage.

Today, Sixfields Travel Club, which provides coach journeys for away games, stepped in to provide a meal for the workers.

“We are very grateful to the travel club,” Mr Willsher said. “So many people are offering to help and it is really appreciated.

“Those little acts of kindness really bring people together.”

Interim director of the Northampton Town Football Club Supporters’ Trust, Stuart Taylor, has praised the candour of staff in the difficult times.

“I think it speaks volumes for the club,” he said. “It’s just a crying shame how we have got into this situation in the first place.”