The Cobblers have given Charlton Athletic permission to speak to boss Chris Wilder about taking over as manager at The Valley.
Wilder, who guided Northampton to the Sky Bet League Two title this season, has agreed to meet with Addicks officials and admits the opportunity of taking charge at the south London club is ‘one I have to explore’.
Chairman Kelvin Thomas says he will be doing his utmost to keep Wilder and his assistant Alan Knill at Sixfields, but admits the Cobblers will ‘not be able to match both the salary and the playing budget for next season that a club the size of Charlton could offer’.
Stories started emerging on Monday morning that Charlton owner Roland Duchatelet sees Wilder as the ideal man to turn the fortunes of his club around, and it has been confirmed that an official approach was made to the Cobblers by the Addicks this morning.
There are release clauses in both Wilder and Knill’s existing Town contracts.
Wilder will now meet with Duchatelet, and Thomas has made it clear to his manager and Charlton that he wants a quick decision to be made so that, if Wilder does depart, he can get on with hiring a new boss at Sixfields.
“As is common knowledge I have an excellent relationship with both Chris and Alan, and we as a club and myself personally would obviously be very sorry to see them go,” said Thomas.
“We had already begun discussions about much improved new deals, but I think it is fair to say we would not be able to match both the salary and the playing budget for next season that a club the size of Charlton could offer.
“We have known for a while that Chris and Alan would be targets due to the fantastic success they have achieved, and together we have already turned down some interest from other clubs, but after discussions this morning I respect their decision to meet Charlton.”
And he added: “One of the things that we have discussed with both Charlton and Chris is that we want a quick decision so that if we have to, we can begin the process of finding a new manager in good time.
“We have a very strong, stable club with an excellent group of players, and it will be a very attractive job.”
Wilder released a brief statement via the Cobblers, and he admitted that it is going to ‘be a very difficult decision’ for him to turn his back on what he has built up at Sixfields.
“My relationship with the chairman and the fans is going to make this a very difficult decision,” said Wilder. “But I do feel at this stage of my career it is one I need to explore.”
Wilder was in great spirits on Sunday as the took part in the Cobblers’ champions parade through the streets of Northampton.
He has steered Northampton from six points adrift at the bottom of Sky Bet League Two when he took over at the end of January, 2014, to the league title 27 months later.
Town have broken all sorts of records this season, with Saturday’s 2-1 win at Portsmouth stretching their record unbeaten league run to 24 matches and seeing them finish the season on a club record-equalling 99 points - 13 clear of runners-up Oxford United.
Charlton will be league one rivals of the Cobblers next season following their relegation from the Championship, and it is fair to say it is a club in turmoil.
The south Londoners have gone through five different managers in the same time that Wilder has been at Sixfields, with the most recent to depart being José Riga who resigned following Saturday’s final-day defeat to champions Burnley.
The Cobblers will be in line for compensation if Wilder were to leave, as he is on a one-year rolling contract at Sixfields.