University’s £300k plus deal to sponsor Northampton Town would have continued if club folded, says vice-chancellor

Kelvin Thomas and Nick Petford announcing the extension of the new sponsorship deal between Cobblers and the University of Northampton today.
Kelvin Thomas and Nick Petford announcing the extension of the new sponsorship deal between Cobblers and the University of Northampton today.
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“We would have stood by no matter what,” the University of Northampton’s vice chancellor has said after announcing another three-year deal to support the Cobblers.

Three months ago Northampton Town Football Club stood on the brink of going into administration, or worse liquidation, as a result of a £166,000 unpaid tax bill.

Northampton Town chairman Kelvin Thomas and vice chancellor of the University of Northampton Nick Petford, announce the extension to their 'partnership' today. Far left is Cobblers chairman James Whiting and far right is chief operating officer of the university Terry Neville.

Northampton Town chairman Kelvin Thomas and vice chancellor of the University of Northampton Nick Petford, announce the extension to their 'partnership' today. Far left is Cobblers chairman James Whiting and far right is chief operating officer of the university Terry Neville.

Many feared the Cobblers would have to start again as a phoenix club, several leagues below its current position.

But after a last-minute deal was struck with current owner Kelvin Thomas to take over the club, the side has paid off the taxman, clawed back from the financial brink and now sits at the top of League Two.

Today, the University of Northampton announced it would be renewing its three-year sponsorship deal with the Sixfields club, in a move that will see the two partners “working closer together than ever before.”

The contract value is believed to be more than £300,000.

Representatives from every Northampton Town side, from the under nines right through to the League Two first team - here represented by winger Alfie Potter.

Representatives from every Northampton Town side, from the under nines right through to the League Two first team - here represented by winger Alfie Potter.

But vice chancellor of the university, Nick Petford, has claimed the partnership would have been renewed no matter what happened back in November.

“We always said we would stand by no matter what happened,” he said.

“I have been so inspired by the fanbase here and the energy that went on behind the scenes to come up with a solution to the club’s problems was inspirational.

“There was no way we would ever want to walk away - this is more than sponsorship, it’s a partnership and partners don’t walk away from each other.”

Both Mr Petford and Mr Thomas have stressed they want to increase the ties between club and university over the next three years, with the League Two side set to offer more internships to students on sports related courses.

The university will also be using Sixfields for several events, including hosting its varsity tournament in 2017.

However, chairman Mr Thomas said extending the contract was by no means a formality.

He said: “You are always nervous when renewals come up.

“When we took over we knew there were some issues, there was some repair work that needed doing. But today marks a move forward and a really strong expansion to our partnership.

Mr Thomas said, with Northampton Town’s average attendance having lept by 10 per cent on this time last season, the club is far more stable than it was when he took over.

“We have moved away from crisis management and onto the normal day-to-day running for the football club,” he said.

“We have shown we can invest, we have shown in the transfer window we are not afraid to make additional funds available to bolster the team.”

Promotion would provide another financial boost he said, but despite the side sitting 15 points clear of fourth place Wycombe Wanderers, the club chairman is remiss to celebrate just yet.

He said: “We have still got important games to win. As with any promotion, income will go up, but it doesn’t go up as much as you would think. Expenses go up too, probably more than people think. So we are just focussing on winning the next game.”