Former Cobblers boss blames Northampton Borough Council for delays over land deal for loan collapse, court hears

Failures by Northampton Borough Council to agree planning conditions on land around Sixfields caused the Cobblers loan deal to collapse, its former chairman has claimed.

Wednesday, 11th July 2018, 6:31 pm
Updated Tuesday, 17th July 2018, 6:46 pm
David Cardoza, former Northampton Town chairman

David Cardoza made the remarks giving evidence on the eighth day of a High Court trial into the missing £10.25 million this morning.

The borough council is suing Mr Cardoza, his wife and father for their part in the collapsed deal between 2013 and 2014.

Today defence barrister Emma Edhem focussed on a period in 2015, when the Cardozas had decided to take on the development of a wider hotel and housing scheme surrounding the stadium themselves.

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Mary Markham, former leader of Northampton Borough Council

It was always intended that the £10.25 million loan from the council would be paid back by the profits from the land and the Cardozas sought to do this through a company they owned called County Developments (Northampton) Limited.

But Mr Cardoza said the council delayed too long in signing off what he later called a "punitive" section 106 planning agreement on the land.

Such agreements make developers pledge to carry out vital infrastructure works in return for being granted planning consent.

"We had gotten ourselves into a position where we could control the development," he told the court, talking about a period in 2015.

"We had been promised money to pay off pay off (stadium builders) Buckingham Group by the council, so we could get the stand built.

"We had been given assurances that the land deal was going to go ahead, with the section 106 and everything else.

"But they stopped it.

"Had they not done that we would have never gone bust, no-one would be sitting here now.

"I suspect by now all, or most of the money could have been paid back by the land deal."

On Monday, Mr Cardoza told the court that, due to the way he and his father had been treated, they had "no intention" to pay back interest payments on the loan to the council in 2015.

Today he revealed that public comments made by council leader Mary Markham when she took over from David Mackintosh in May 2015, had further soured the relationship.

"She went to the press on a number of occasions," he said.

"We made a complaint to the council and the things that she said. They were personal and untrue.

"Mary Markham said publicly that she had met with me and she claimed I threatened to put the club into administration.

"I have never met with that woman."

Mr Cardoza said that, with the land deal collapsing, he and his father "had no option but to find millions of extra pounds to try to solve the situation".

Today he revealed that Enfield-based businessman Ravi Rach had offered £20 million for the club and land, before the deal fell through in July 2015.

Swindon chairman Jed McCrory's later bid would have also seen him take on all of the loan debt to the council and pay David Cardoza £300,000. That fell through after due diligence checks on Mr McCrory, claimed Mr Cardoza today.

The trial is set to hear closing statements from both sides over Thursday and Friday.