CHRON COMMENT: Report may tell us how the Sixfields loan went wrong...but now we need more

When Cobblers supporters started watching their club descend into chaos 18 months ago, everyone wanted answers. But now it's more than that: everyone wants action.

Thursday, 1st December 2016, 3:06 pm
Updated Tuesday, 6th December 2016, 3:40 pm
Councillor David Mackintosh with his Cobblers programme, ticket and scarf from 1997.

If anything, this week’s damning - if, let’s be honest, slightly vague - report by PricewaterhouseCooper finally confirms a number of long- held beliefs.

It confirms that there was pressure from senior management at Northampton Borough Council to fashion some sort of loan deal in July 2013 - even though officers had misgivings.

It confirms that the borough only finished drawing up a business plan after it had agreed to give Northampton Town Football Club up to £12 million.

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Then, within a matter of months, executive officers bumped that amount up to £13.5 million in order to get work on a hotel started.

And when things started going wrong – checks on the progress of the stadium involved little more than a drive-past in a car.

The quest for answers is not even close to being at an end and this report has simply whetted the appetite for what is no doubt going to be a far more in-depth report by KPMG.

Just what was said in those emails pressuring staff to draw up a flimsy loan with a club in £7 million worth of debt?

One way or another, we will get those answers.

But our front page comment is about more than that.

Since that £10.25 million vanished, not one person responsible has faced any consequences for what happened. Not one person directly involved has said sorry.

It is perhaps the chief reason why the whole saga has maintained such an enduring interest.

Here we have £10.25 million – the cost of an 80ft luxury yacht, the cost of two years worth of foreign aid to Iraq – lost .

And not one person who played a key part in that has said “sorry” officially.

Even though David Mackintosh was singled out in the PwC report for putting undue time restraints on finance officers to get a loan deal ready, this week the comment he made through a written statement to the Chronicle & Echo – not via an interview – made reference only to the “highly-paid officers” he blamed for what happened.

On the other hand, the new council leader, Jonathan Nunn, found himself apologising unreservedly” for the actions of his former and current colleagues.

But – nice though that is – it is little more than a gesture.

Council chief David Kennedy will address next week’s special audit committee and we wait to see whether he breaks this apparent apology embargo.

There is no doubt the Tories would have been hammerd by Cobblers fans if they had failed to deliver the revamped stadium they promised in their 2011 manifesto, in the same way the Liberal Democrats were universally criticised for putting the brakes on it.

But even when the deal looked toxic, they ploughed on anyway.

We want more than just the answers - and we won’t let up until we get them.

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