Former Cobblers chairman told Northampton Borough Council he would take the football club into administration if the authority did not “back off” about reclaiming its £10.25 million loan, the council leader has said.
Councillor Mary Markham has given an insight into the council’s dealings with Mr Cardoza as soon as officers realised the former stockbroker’s club had not been keeping up repayments of the loan back in June.
In an interview with the Chronicle & Echo reflecting on the recent crisis at Sixfields, the Conservative councillor said Mr Cardoza had a meeting on June 24 to answer why a loan repayment had been missed.
She said: “We contacted him as soon as that loan was overdrawn and told him we need to know what is going on. We asked him a whole raft of questions and he refused to answer any of them, so we called him in for a meeting.
“He came into he meeting and he said ‘you need to back off or I will put the club into administration’.
“I said ‘you can’t do that’.”
Shortly after that meeting Mr Cardoza publicly declared that an Indian consortium, which we now know included the Enfield property businessman Ravi Rach, had signed a heads of term agreement to buy the club.
He told the Chron at the time: “We felt the time was right to let supporters know where we are.”
Councillor Markham said that announcement came as a surprise to the council, having only met with Mr Cardoza a few hours earlier.
She claimed the authority were not aware Mr Cardoza planned to sell the club beforehand.
She said: “He left here (on June 24) and at about 1pm that afternoon we heard the football club was up for sale in the news. That was the first we had heard of it.”
Councillor Markham also claims Mr Cardoza was disruptive when Kelvin Thomas was at the closing stages of negotiations to buy the club.
She said that Mr Thomas was on the cusp of signing a deal a fortnight before he was announced as the new chairman. But at that point Mr Cardoza revealed he was talking to another buyer, a move which frustrated Mr Thomas and prompted him to make a public statement expressing his dissatisfaction.
“Because of how he (David Cardoza) was, we nearly lost Kelvin,” Councillor Markham said.
“We kept Kelvin in the deal.”
Councillor Markham also spoke of her fears when, on Monday, November 23, Mr Thomas was announced as having agreed terms to takeover the club, when there was still legal paperwork to complete.
“I was petrified,” she said. “He hadn’t actually signed the papers.
“I was seeing people celebrate and thinking this might be a bit premature here.”
However the following day a memorandum of understanding was agreed with Mr Thomas, that the council would take on the club’s £10.25 million debt and recover it by developing the land around Sixfields.
The council has come under heavy criticism for the way it managed the loan to Northampton Town Football Club. Only yesterday director of stadium builders Buckingham Group, Paul Wheeler, said the council used “loose criteria” to continue handing the loan money to the Cobblers in £1.5 million tranches.
But Councillor Markham said: “It’s easy to criticise. But I don’t think anyone has any idea of the amount of work we have done to get Northampton Town Football Club across the line.”
Mr Cardoza has been approached for comment but has not responded.