Cobblers Supporters' Trust opt to invoke ACV, potentially delaying East Stand completion

The Athletics track at Sixfields.The Athletics track at Sixfields.
The Athletics track at Sixfields.
The club have stated previously that invoking the ACV would delay completion of the East Stand

Northampton Town Supporters’ Trust have opted to invoke the Asset of Community Value on the disused athletics track at Sixfields, potentially delaying completion of the East Stand.

The Trust now have four and a half months to raise money and make a bid to buy the land themselves. However, West Northants Council are under no obligation to accept their bid. Northampton Town FC hold a 130-year lease on the land.

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The club have stated previously that invoking the ACV would delay completion of the East Stand. They have already held meetings with Buckingham Group Contracting but have said they would suspend those discussions until after the moratorium period, which began on March 2.

The club and the Trust are now effectively in competition for the four acres of land behind Sixfields.

A Trust statement said: “The board of Northampton Town Supporters Trust has unanimously agreed to invoke the Asset of Community Value on the old athletics track land behind the East Stand at Sixfields stadium.

"It follows a vote of Trust members who were 96-86 in favour of invoking the ACV.

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"The Trust has informed West Northamptonshire Council of its decision and now has the opportunity to raise funds and bid to buy the old athletics track land within the moratorium period of six months which began on 2 March.

"There is however no obligation on the council to sell the freehold of this land to the Trust at the end of this process.

"And while there is now a pause on this land being sold, there is nothing to prevent the club's owners David Bower and Kelvin Thomas doing what they always promised to do - completing the East Stand.

"We know that many of our members, and many other Cobblers fans, believe our decision will delay development. This need not be the case.

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"There is nothing to stop work on completing the East Stand continuing in the months ahead, as indeed the owners made clear in a document shared with the then Northampton Borough Council two years ago.

"Why do the owners say that in invoking the ACV we will be delaying the completion of the East stand?

"We would like to understand and help the process move forward but our priority is to protect the long-term future of the club.

"To use any decision the Trust makes to exercise its rights in respect of the ACV land as a reason for suspending discussions with Buckingham Group, and so seeking to lay the blame for further delay on the Trust, would be fatuous.

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"There has been no legitimate reason since June 2018 for not progressing with finishing the stand. As the club points out, it has a long-term lease over the ACV land so there should be no more excuses about delay. The responsibility lies solely with the club’s owners.

"For as long as any doubt remains, the Supporters Trust will continue to explore all possible ways to guarantee completion of the East Stand, the use of proceeds from land sales/development for the benefit of the football club, and the retention of the former athletics track for the long-term benefit of the football club and the local community.

"We simply ask that the football club and WNC work together to create a binding detailed agreement we can all get behind, not one riddled with loopholes and therefore reliant upon assurances and goodwill.

"We are now looking to speak to backers who share our vision. This is a golden opportunity to grow the club and help fulfil its undoubted potential.

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"This is why we feel a partnership Infrastructure Foundation - involving club, council, fans and other interested parties - is a constructive way forward to look at improving facilities for the club and community.

"Supporters have already come forward with some bold ideas for moving the club forward.

"We hope the Foundation will serve as a platform for discussing and bringing forward ideas and partnership opportunities which fans could choose to support and invest in.”