Cobblers boss Chris Wilder praises former Oxford chairman Kelvin Thomas

HAPPY DAY - Chris Wilder (right) and Kelvin Thomas (second from right) enjoy Oxford United's Conference play-off final success at Wembley in May, 2010
HAPPY DAY - Chris Wilder (right) and Kelvin Thomas (second from right) enjoy Oxford United's Conference play-off final success at Wembley in May, 2010
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Northampton Town boss Chris Wilder has issued a ringing endorsement of Kelvin Thomas, the man believed to the head of the consortium close to agreeing a deal to buy the Cobblers.

Thomas is a former chairman of Oxford United, and was the man who appointed Wilder as manager at the Kassam Stadium in 2008.

The pair went on to enjoy a hugely successful spell together with the Us, guiding the club from the lower reaches of the Conference, to a play-off final victory at Wembley and promotion to the Football League.

The partnership was ended in the summer of 2012 when Thomas decided to quit Oxford, with the club re-established in Sky Bet League Two.

Thomas is now believed to be close to agreeing a deal to buy the Cobblers, with chairman David Cardoza admitting talks over a sale are at an advanced stage with a group who ‘are football people’.

If it is the case that Thomas is involved the Wilder, who quit Oxford for Sixfields in January, 2014, says the club’s supporters can be very happy.

“I had an outstanding working relationship with Kelvin,” said Wilder

“That club (Oxford) was really, really struggling when he went in there, and I came in after that.

“It went from a club that was heading out of the Conference on gates of around 3,000, to a club that was heading back into the Football League, with gates of 8,000.

“I had a great period with him, and a great working relationship, and that is what it was, a working relationship, and we worked tirelessly.

“Kelvin is a proper football man, and at the time there was him involved, and Jim Smith and Jim Rosenthal who are proper football people, and Kelvin played a major part in turning that club around.

“I do believe that, with the momentum he gained turning it round, the club would have been pushing to get in the championship now, but for one reason or another he left.

“He definitely is a football man, he knows his stuff, and there was a dramatic change at that football club off the field as well, as everybody involved at that club, whether it be supporters, staff or players, will testify, not just me.

“All supporters are always encouraged when football people get involved in clubs, and he is certainly a football man.”

Wilder believes Thomas taking control of the Cobblers would be good for the club, and says that the club’s current financial difficulties wouldn’t faze a man who he says is renowned for running ‘a tight ship’.

Asked if believe Thomas taking the Cobblers’ reins would be a positive, Wilder said: “I believe so, because he is a football man and that’s what we are, we are a football club.

“The financial situation at Oxford was one that was tight, it was a tight ship, and every time I asked a question the answer wasn’t always greeted with a yes.

“Kelvin ran that part of the club extremely well, and I think that is what supporters want to see.

“They want to see care, attention and a drive off the pitch, and decent football and passion and enthusiasm off the pitch.

“We had it going there, and if Kelvin were to be involved I am sure it would be a good thing for this football club moving forward.”