Update on Northampton Town £10.25m loan recovery could be held behind closed doors

Police officers removing files from Sixfields in November, 2015. Since a civil battle was launched two-and-a-half years ago, no funds have been recovered.
Police officers removing files from Sixfields in November, 2015. Since a civil battle was launched two-and-a-half years ago, no funds have been recovered.

A meeting to discuss Northampton Borough Council's attempted recovery of the £10.25 million loaned to the Cobblers is likely to be held behind closed doors.

The authority loaned Northampton Town the funds throughout 2013 and 2014 to carry out an overhaul of the stadium and progress plans for a hotel on the site.

The loan money from Northampton Borough Council was intended to pay for a stadium redevelopment, but the work was never completed.

The loan money from Northampton Borough Council was intended to pay for a stadium redevelopment, but the work was never completed.

But in 2015 workers downed tools at Sixfields midway through the east stand renovation and it soon emerged the football club had not been making the loan repayments.

In November 2015, then council leader Mary Markham launched a legal bid to recover the money.

"We will do all in our power to recoup the money and pursue the people involved," she told a Guildhall press conference at the time.

The council wrote off the loan to the Cobblers when Kelvin Thomas took over the club in November 2015 and received cabinet approval to set aside £950,000 for legal fees to chase the money.

The council has hired forensic accountants to scour the Cobblers' books and barristers to fight a High Court case against the previous club chairman David Cardoza since then.

But a report by auditors KPMG last June revealed the authority had not recouped any of the loan, despite committing a large proportion of the £950,000 to the cause.

The council's cabinet is set to discuss an agenda item entitled "recovery of Northampton Town Football Club loan" on April 28.

But the authority has applied to exclude members of the public from that part of the meeting.

Under the Local Government Act, a meeting can be held in private if not doing so interferes with the "investigation or prosecution of crime".

A police investigation into financial irregularities surrounding the loan was also launched in November, 2015.

A council spokesman said: “We cannot comment at this time because this is a live court case and an ongoing police investigation.”

Members of the public can contest the decision to hold the meeting in private by emailing democraticservices@northampton.gov.uk .

At least five days before the meeting, a further notice will be published of the cabinet’s intention to hold part of the meeting in private.