BREAKING: Northampton Town given two weeks to seal takeover deal as winding-up petition hearing is adjourned

Northampton Town Football Club v Mansfield Town at SIxfields Sky Bet League 2 14/11/15 NNL-151115-084138009
Northampton Town Football Club v Mansfield Town at SIxfields Sky Bet League 2 14/11/15 NNL-151115-084138009

The winding-up petition brought by HMRC against Northampton Town for unpaid taxes has been adjourned for two weeks in the High Court this morning.

A judge heard the winding-up petition application this morning and adjourned the case until the end of November, which gives the club more time to secure a takeover deal.

A spokesman for Northampton Town said: “Northampton Town Football Club acknowledge the High Court’s adjournment until November 30th of the winding up petition brought by HMRC.

“The club’s role is currently to provide assistance where necessary to the ongoing process and to ensure that through this period the club continues to operate as normal.

“We understand this is a difficult situation for supporters and we would like to thank all supporters for their continued patience and support,” he added.

In a move by Northampton Borough Council, a counter application was made ahead of the hearing. The council put forward a petition to seek the administration of the League Two side and made submissions to the judge at the High Court hearing. The council is owed £10.25 million by the club after the failed redevelopment of the East Stand and other ground improvements and missed repayments.

The administration petition should have taken priority over the winding-up petition, but the final decision had to be made by the judge. The administration petition hearing is now scheduled for November 27. The winding-up hearing will now take place on November 30.

Councillor Mary Markham, leader of Northampton Borough Council, they were pleased the judge agreed to adjourn the HMRC liquidation hearing this morning, in favour of the cuncil’s petition for Administration.

Councillor Markham said: “I am pleased that our petition for Administration has been successful, so that the club can continue to operate while all interested parties work to conclude a sale or put an alternative rescue plan in place to bring stability and secure the future of the Club.”

The council’s submission came as a result of talks with the Northampton Town Supporters’ Trust.

An anticipated announcement last week on the takeover talks led by Kelvin Thomas failed to materialise, but it is understood that it is still close to being signed.

Representatives of the supporters’ trust will be at this morning’s hearing.

Newly elected board member to the supporters’ trust Kevin Simons, said the adjournment today buys Kelvin Thomas time.

“We are certainly relieved by the result today, you do worry in these sorts of hearings that something in the legal process could have tripped it up and the club would be wound up today.”

Mr Simons said fans would now be looking to Kelvin Thomas to update them on how the negotiations are proceeding.

“Mr Thomas has not made a public announcement on this since for some time. An update would be useful.

“No one has said the deal is off, so that has to be a positive sign.

“But no one wants to see this going to November 30th.

“If it did there would have to be a very good reason to adjourn the hearing a second time.”

Mr Simons added: “All this is fraying the nerves of the fans, but the great news is the performance on the field is great.

“And the atmosphere from the fans on Saturday was fantastic. It just shows we can compete on the top six or seven teams in the league. We do have a promotion chance.

“It would be a shame to miss out on that because of the off the field events.”

Cross Rail engineer James Baker took a day off work to attend the Winding up petition at the Rolls Chancery division this morning.

The lifelong Cobblers fan said he was relieved to see liquidation averted today as it will give former Oxford chairman Kelvin Thomas more time to hammer out a deal.

He said: “it’s all we can hope for isn’t it. If he can pull something together hopefully we can avoid administration as well.”

If the club were to go into administration it would face an immediate 12 point deduction. It is also likely the top paid players would be released on free transfers.