Mega-fan whose club was ‘ruined by foreign investors’ issues word of warning to Northampton Town supporters

Northampton Town Football Club is in the process of being sold to an Indian consortium of buyers. But will they bring success?
Northampton Town Football Club is in the process of being sold to an Indian consortium of buyers. But will they bring success?

A football fanatic whose then Premier League club dropped down the tables after foreign investors bought it has issued a warning to Cobblers: “I just hope you’ve done your research”.

On Wednesday chairman of Northampton Town Football Club, David Cardoza, revealed a heads of term agreement had been signed with an as yet unknown Indian consortium to buy the club.

The deal would see the consortium take control of the football club, as well as ‘100 per cent of the company that owns the lease on the land to be redeveloped’ surrounding Sixfields.

Mr Cardoza told the Chronicle & Echo that the new buyers would be “A very positive move for the club”.

A well-placed source, whose name cannot be revealed, has also told the Chron this week that the soon to be new owners had ambitions to ‘take Northampton town towards the higher leagues’.

But Kamrah Inayat, who edits the Blackburn Rovers Football Club fanzine, has issued a word of caution, saying its Indian buyers, the Venky family, were the “worst thing to ever happen to Rovers”.

Commenting on the news that a foreign consortium looked set to take over Cobblers, he said: “I hope they have looked into the background of these people after our experience with the Venkys.

“They may be really wealthy people, but out experience is it there is a lot of difference between having money and knowing how to run a football club in the UK.”

And Mr Inayat, an English lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University, said that the Venkys, who run a pan-Asian poultry company, were initially greeted with a similarly positive fanfare.

But in the five years since the family took over the club in 2010, former title winners Blackburn Rovers went from challenging for a place in European club competitions, to a relegation dogfight in the Championship, the league below.

“When they bought the club they were making all the right noises,” Mr Inayat, said. “And they wanted to keep the existing management structure.”

A month later they had got rid of (then manager) Sam Allardyce and his main coaching staff as well.

“Within two months they had got rid of the managers and chief executive and replaced them with people from India.

“It just spiralled out of control. They sold our top players like Roque Santa Cruz and Robbie savage, and brought in a host of unknown Portuguese players for a high price.

“I just have such an apathy towards the whole situation now. Attendance is below 12,000 - the Venkys themselves don’t attend games.”

But for every failed foreign buyout, Leeds United FC included, there is a success story such as recently promoted Bournemouth AFC and closer to home, Premier League survivalists Leicester City.

Angela Buswell, who is chair of the Leicester City Football Club supporter’s club, says fans have warmed to the Thai duty free mogul Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha and his family, who have helped the club remain in the Barclays Premier league after years scrapping around in the mid table of the Championship.

“I don’t think we can fault them,” she said. “They have put a lot of money into the club, they kept us afloat.

“Last season they were offering free t-shirts for the last four or five games, it must have cost them a fortune.”

“They are also at most of the home games. I think you will find Leicester City fans are generally full of praise for them, they kept us afloat.”