Chinese investors claim they are still 'major stakeholders' in Cobblers despite apparent split

Kelvin Thomas and Tom Auyeng announcing the partnership last year.
Kelvin Thomas and Tom Auyeng announcing the partnership last year.

The boss of the Chinese investors dropped by Cobblers chairman Kelvin Thomas has insisted he is still a major stakeholder at Sixfields and has vowed to take legal action over the split.

5USports chief executive Tom Auyeung has hit back following the Northampton Town Football Club announcement on Thursday night.

Mr Auyeng claims 5USport still owns 100 per cent of the Cobblers holding company.

Mr Auyeng claims 5USport still owns 100 per cent of the Cobblers holding company.

In June, 2017, his Guangzhou-based company were reported to have purchased 60 per cent of Northampton Town Ventures Limited, the holding company for the football club.

They promised to increase the club’s squad buying power and its educational work overseas.

But club chairman Kelvin Thomas cut ties with 5U Sport on Thursday night after claiming the company had simply failed to invest enough during their nine-month partnership.

Mr Auyeung has now issued a counter statement in which he has claimed 5USports is the '100 per cent shareholder' of Northampton Town Ventures, effectively the major shareholder at the Cobblers, and also declared that Town chairman Kelvin Thomas's position as 'senior manager' at 5USports has been 'terminated'.

The company has provided the Chron with copies of two share purchase agreements worth around £4.3 million that it says, proves their claim.

A statement from 5USport reads: "Despite the announcement, 5U Sports still considers that it is the 100 per cent shareholder of the Northampton Town Ventures Limited, and that Tom (Auyeng) and Oliver (Zheng) are still directors of the Northampton Town Venture Limited and Northampton Town Football Club.

"5U Sports shall consider taking appropriate legal actions.”

However, the Chronicle and Echo has seen further documents appearing to confirm both Mr Zheng and Mr Auyeng’s resignation from the Cobblers holding company. Companies House also shows both men as having resigned as directors.

A solicitors’ statement seen by the Chron also appears to recognise the resignation letters as legally binding.

Mr Thomas said he was surprised by the counter claims.

“Yes I have seen the rather curious 5USport statement,” he told the Chron.

“Fortunately, our position is rather well backed up by legal documentation and if 5USport think otherwise there are always the appropriate channels to use. As for right now we are purely focusing on the football club.”

A statement from the Cobblers yesterday read that Kevin Thomas's business partner David Bower and himself had "reacquired" the shares previously held by 5USport.

“As part of the arrangement Tom Auyeung and Oliver Zheng have stepped down from the board of directors,” it added.