Cobblers chairman disputes council's claim he can 'proceed' with developing the East Stand
Northampton Borough Council has claimed the Cobblers chairman can "proceed with the completion of the East Stand" even though the boss of the League One side is adamant a lease wrangle is still holding up the development.
Yesterday, Kelvin Thomas issued a stinging email to councillors at the authority stating that the council appeared to be "holding up" plans to develop the stand.
In the email, Mr Thomas wrote: "We have also worked tremendously hard in parallel to continue work on the East Stand, however, for months and months, we have repeatedly highlighted the areas of legitimate concern regarding the existing leases."
The chairman said he could not continue developing a new stand until he had received assurances over the leases.
While Northampton Borough Council owns the land the East Stand sits on, the football club and County Developments Northampton Limited (CDNL) own the leases to develop it.
And in a statement today, Northampton Borough Council appeared to give the Cobblers owner the green light.
A spokeswoman said: “We will continue to work privately with the football club on these matters, but we believe that NTFC are in a position that enables them to proceed with the completion of the East Stand.
"Any possible future development of the publicly-owned land around the stadium will only be done at a time and in a way that ensures the maximum benefit to the town and its residents, and this is not linked to the football club or to the East Stand.”
Mr Thomas said he was "somewhat surprised" by the statement, particularly the notion that the wider development and the East Stand are not linked.
He said: “It has already been widely acknowledged by the council there are outstanding legal issues with the leases that the East Stand sits on for the football club, whilst this quote states they believe we are in a position to proceed.
“This is directly contradicted by an email we received yesterday, on September 26th, 2017 from the borough solicitor."
That email from solicitor Frances Fernandes read: “From my understanding of the position, we are in a much clearer position to regularise the land issues which will enable NTFC (with CDNL’s support) to build the stand,” but then it did not go on to explain when this would be dealt with.
Mr Thomas said: "Again, we can only feel this statement is an attempt to ignore the issues or to kick this into the long grass and we would love to hear how the council feel their current strategy or plan is to the maximum benefit to the town and its residents.
“As we have always stated, working together as leaseholders on this publically-owned land, all the Football Club and CDNL want to do is work with the Council on a positive way forward. We are ready and eager to move forward in partnership, to benefit not just the Football Club but our supporters and Sixfields as a whole.”