BREAKING NEWS: Borough council hits back at criticism from Northampton Town chairman

The East Stand at Sixfields
The East Stand at Sixfields

Northampton Borough Council says "no lease issues have held up the development of the East stand" following accusations by the Cobblers chairman earlier today.

Chairman Kelvin Thomas, along with club director David Bower, launched a blistering attack on the borough council, blaming delays over negotiations on a lease for stopping development of the East stand and land surrounding the club.

As reported by the Chronicle & Echo, Mr Thomas said he and the board had become so frustrated with the lack of progress that he was being forced to consider selling their controlling shareholding in Northampton Town Football Club.

The club statement had been released at 10.30am today.

In a response issued at 5.55pm, a spokesman for Northampton Borough Council said "it was essential we clarify a number of facts".

“Firstly it is important to note that the council doesn’t usually conduct commercial business in public," the statement said.

“However, it is essential that we clarify a number of facts in relation to the football club’s statement

“When Mr Thomas initially discussed his intention to take over the club, the borough council allowed this to happen free of loan liability and therefore took on responsibility for the recovery of the outstanding monies, safeguarding league football in Northampton

“Progress on the East Stand has been very much within the gift of the football club, and since taking control of the development company CDNL in 2017, the chairman has been in a position to control further adjacent land.

“The council’s position is that no lease issues have held up this process. The owners had given the council assurances when taking on the club that they had ample funds immediately available for this work

“The council has consistently shown a willingness to facilitate this development and as recently as November 2017 provided draft documentation for the club to

consider.

“The chairman subsequently proposed inclusion of further land, which was not part of the original draft documentation.

“However, the council has an obligation to ensure that any wider use of publicly owned land surrounding the stadium must be in the best interests of the taxpayers of Northampton, particularly proposed retail development outside of the town centre, and must go through proper due diligence to ensure the best value is obtained for the public purse.

“A paper on this subject is already scheduled to be brought to cabinet on June 13.”