Councillors blame Sixfields stand delay on Northampton Town but football club claims a deal is close

The East Stand was described as 'an embarrassment to Northampton' at council meeting but the club claims it is waiting for the council

By Jack Duggan
Tuesday, 10th March 2020, 8:50 pm
Updated Wednesday, 11th March 2020, 9:59 am

Councillors have blamed Northampton Town Football Club for the delay in completing the 'embarrassing' unfinished East Stand at Sixfields.

But Cobblers argue a deal for the whole of the PTS Academy Stadium is being worked on with Northampton Borough Council and councillors are misinformed.

At a meeting on Monday (March 9), Liberal Democrat leader Sally Beardsworth asked for an update on the situation.

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The unfinished East Stand at the PTS Academy Stadium, known as Sixfields

Conservative deputy leader Phil Larratt replied: "That stand is an embarrassment to the town and it needs finishing.

"We were told the money was in the bank to pay for it, but it has never been forthcoming.

"Any conversations we have with the football club we make it very clear that we won’t discuss anything else with them until we see that happen.

"We are doing everything we can to put pressure on the football club to get the stand delivered. It’s unacceptable to be left in the state that it is."

Northampton Borough Council deputy leader Phil Larratt

The East Stand at Sixfields has been a long-running issue dating back to the failed £10.25 million loan from the council to the club in 2014.

Work began in the summer of 2015 but stalled early the following year due to the financial crisis that engulfed the club, leading to a criminal investigation.

Seats were installed in March 2016 but nothing has happened since, despite the club and council issuing statements insisting their discussions have been positive.

But the councillors' comments suggest relations had soured as Conservative cabinet member for regeneration and enterprise Tim Hadland added his thoughts.

Northampton Borough Council cabinet member for regeneration and enterpriseTim Hadland

"It’s very much at the forefront of all our considerations with the football club and their developer partners," he said.

"There’s an undeveloped area to the east and they want to reach an agreement with the council on that.

"But nothing will be agreed before the stand is finished and a date for an opening party is set."

Cobblers chairman Kelvin Thomas said the club was 'very surprised by the comments and can only assume they have not been fully briefed on this matter'.

A letter from council chief executive George Candler to the club in January shows the 'favoured option' would be for the club to buy the entire site from the local authority.

Due diligence was being done, which the club understands is nearly complete' with a meeting expected 'in the next week or so'.

Also a ‘land swap’ involving the area used by Northamptonshire County Council and the adjacent car park was not attractive to the council.

Mr Thomas said: “We have always stated that the completion of the East Stand was the main focus in any development or discussion.

"But clearly it is very important for the sustainability of the football club to ensure that the football club utilises all of its assets to move forward, including the old CDNL land which is now owned by the football club.

“We can all get carried away with sensational headlines or negative agendas by some, but the facts remain that the football club is working hard with the council and we will continue to do so in a professional manner until told otherwise.”