The winding up petition by contractors against the development company responsible for the Sixfields Stadium revamp has been approved.
In a court hearing this morning before a High Court judge in Birmingham, Buckingham Group took legal action against County Developments (Northampton) Ltd over non-payment of nearly £3 million for work carried out on the East Stand.
CDNL is owned by the chairman of Northampton Town, David Cardoza, and his father, Anthony, and was set up to lead the project to build the stand and surrounding area.
Speaking after the hearing, director of Buckingham Group Tim Brown said it was the first time it had taken out a winding up petition.
“As a contracting organisation we have put more seats in stadia than any other UK contractor. It is the first time we have ever encountered a situation such as this,” he said.
“We don’t like the stadium being unfinished either and we have put forward a number of options. We would very much like to finish the ground,” he added.
Mr Brown added: “We had reached a point in time that we were so exasperated, we had no option.
“We were never going to be paid and they had a substantial amount of time to avoid this.”
As for whether Buckingham Group would consider putting its hat in the ring to develop the land around Sixfields now, he said: “Possibly not. We don’t want to be a developer, we are a contractor, we build stadiums.”
Mr Brown was surprised that no-one appeared on behalf of CDNL at Birmingham County Court today, to contest the winding up petition. It is understood that CDNL had decided not to defend the petition as it believed it was the best way forward to get a conclusion.
As for recovering the £3 million Buckingham Group is owed, he said the firm would be looking at recovering debt from both the original project management company 1st Land and CDNL.
A total of £1.85 million worth of debt to Buckingham Group was passed on from 1st Land to CDNL when the former company went into administration.
Mr Brown also confirmed Buckingham Group had had meetings with “people interested in buying the football club” and would be willing to complete the job on the East Stand if the right security could be given from any new owner.
James Averill, of Northampton Town Football Club Supporters Trust, also spoke outside the court room in Birmingham, following a short hearing which lasted little over two minutes.
He said: “By all accounts it is a bit surprising that no on was here from CDNL to defend them. What is worrying is hearing from Buckingham Group that they have never encountered anything like this before. It’s not a proud record for David Cardoza to have.”
A Northampton Borough Council spokesman said: “The winding up of CDNL today means that Northampton Borough Council is now free to talk to a wider range of people, including the official receiver, about the future development of the land, which is how the loan that we have made to the football club will be paid back. We will be meeting with interested parties soon.
“Our priority is to protect the public purse and ensure that the loan is repaid in full, while also offering support to safeguard the future of the football club.
“With that in mind, we have made proposals to David Cardoza and offered to work with the club to avoid being liquidated by the HMRC petition and we await a decision from David Cardoza on that.”
Following the hearding, Councillor Danielle Stone, leader of the Labour Group, said: “The court case this morning doesn’t give confidence that the situation surrounding the Football Club is going to be resolved soon.
“The winding up of County Developments (Northampton) Ltd shows that the East Stand is not going to be finished for some time to come.
“The entire situation around First Land and CDNL has gone from bad to worse and many questions still need to be answered. We all understand the situation of Buckinghams as they had every right to pursue non-payment of the work they carried out. In short, builders expect to get paid. Once again people will keep on asking ‘where has the money gone?”