Cobblers release statement 'clarifying misinformation' from Supporters' Trust

Club’s statement comes in response to letter sent by the Trust to their members

Cobblers have released a statement seeking to ‘clarify misinformation’ from the Supporters’ Trust regarding the Asset of Community Value on the athletics track at Sixfields.

The Trust hold the ACV on the area of land behind Sixfields and should they choose to invoke it, they would secure a six-month moratorium on the sale in order to raise money and then make a bid to buy the freehold title of the land themselves.

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Prior to the weekend, the Trust sent an email to members asking for their views on the situation, in which they stated that, in their opinion, invoking the ACV before the deadline (April 13) would not delay completion of the East Stand.

However, on Monday morning, Northampton Town released a statement clarifying some of the information within that email and have stated that opting to enforce the ACV would ‘categorically’ delay work restarting on the stand. The club have already held several meetings with contractors but believe it would be ‘unfair’ to continue those discussions if the Trust were actively trying to buy the land.

The statement read: “The Football Club has been very determined not to get involved in further public discussion with the Supporters Trust and like most supporters are very worn down by the continuing disruption, but having seen the latest letter to Trust members regarding a vote on the ACV, we feel we have an obligation to ensure that members and fans alike have the correct information before making such an important decision.

“In a week where West Northamptonshire Council have already written to the Trust to correct misinformation in a letter written by their acting secretary and legal advisor and the Trust have not yet explained to members why said legal advisor is also in direct communication with a rival bidder for the land, it is still a surprise to see such a letter to members containing further misinformation and asking for them to vote on misinformation.

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“We have actively encouraged the Trust board many times to engage with their members on important decisions and it is good to see that finally happening, however, to do so with such a short time frame for a vote and stating that this action will not cause a delay is disingenuous at best. The whole legal basis of an ACV moratorium is to delay a process, it is in the definition.

Protections – The Supporters Trust have been clearly told by both WNC and the Club that any development of this land can only benefit the Football Club and the East Stand will be completed as part of any deal. It is in the Heads of Terms and the Trust have been told by both the Club and the Council it will be in the legal contract.

“Delay – The Club can categorically state that if the Trust were to invoke the ACV process it will delay the completion of the East Stand and any further development. The Chairman openly talked about this in an interview with local media on 24th March 2022 and that position hasn’t changed.

“The club have met with Buckingham’s already three times moving towards a contract to complete the East Stand and it would be unfair on Buckingham’s or any other party to continue discussions while the Supporters Trust were actively trying to buy the land.

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“The legal work can continue with WNC, however the contracts could only be signed subject to the expiry of the ACV process so therefore for the Trust to say there would be no delay is again misinformation. They would be the sole reason for any delay beyond the contract signing.

“Working against the Football Club – It must be clearly understood that the Trust, with this possible action, will be actively competing directly with the club to buy land that the club holds on a long leasehold (150 years) anyway and is attempting to secure the freehold of. This action will see that land continue in its existing disused state for a long time. It also needs to be clearly stated that in the already agreed deal with WNC this land is transferred directly to the Football Club and for the benefit of the Football Club.

“This action would also mean the Trust attempting to secure significant funding from a third party for the purpose of acting as a rival bidder to the Football Club. This is certainly not in the best interests of the club or the supporters. In our opinion this goes well beyond just asking questions and would bring into question the whole current purpose or mission statement of the Supporters’ Trust.

“The club does however respect the legal process of the Asset of Community Value and does not seek to intervene in that process but does want the members and the fanbase in general to fully understand the ramifications of this decision. We state once again very clearly that we would seriously question any motives for such a delay and the disruption caused by this action will significantly harm the Football Club.”