COMMENT: Only time will tell if Cobblers and 5USport partnership will flourish

So, as the dust starts to settle on yet another dramatic week at Sixfields, what is the 5USport investment in the club actually going to mean for the Cobblers?

Thursday, 29th June 2017, 2:59 pm
Updated Tuesday, 18th July 2017, 8:24 am
Cobblers chairman Kelvin Thomas (left) and 5USport CEO Tom Auyeung at Sixfields this week (Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)

The shock announcement that the Chinese company has bought 60 per cent of the shares of the Cobblers’ owners, Northampton Town Ventures Limited, was met with amazement by the club’s supporters.

The fact the news came out totally out of the blue to virtually everybody was staggering in itself, with negotiations between Town chairman Kelvin Thomas and 5USport having been ongoing for seven months, without anybody getting wind of it.

The first I heard was via a phone call from the club’s head of media, Gareth Willsher, on Monday morning, and it took me a few minutes to get my head around the enormity of what was happening.

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And when we later found out the scale of the investment, with Thomas revealing 5USport has become the club’s largest shareholder, the reality began to sink in.

Frustratingly for me, and for every Cobblers supporter, there were no figures forthcoming, so we don’t know in terms of pounds and pence what is being ploughed into the club.

But I think it is fair to say that we are not talking peanuts here, with Thomas speaking of increased spending power to improve the playing squad as well as Sixfields Stadium itself, with hints of an exciting ‘masterplan’ of redevelopment.

But it’s also fair to say this is not going to be a case where cash is splashed for the sake of it.

5USport's Tom Auyeung

Justin Edinburgh is not going to suddenly start forking out stupid money for players, or bringing in ageing Premier League stars looking for a pre-retirement pay cheque.

It seems it is going to be about long-term investment for long-term gain, and that is surely the right way to go.

Wild spending on players now would only unsettle a squad that has been carefully put together, based on not just ability but also players’ character.

It seems sensible for Edinburgh to carry on with the plans he has been working on before the end of last season, but safe in the knowledge that he can now add extra quality if he feels he needs to.

5USport's Tom Auyeung

On the face of it, serious investment coming into a club has to be a good thing, but there are concerns among some supporters that such arrangements can go horribly wrong.

It perhaps doesn’t help that details on the history of 5USport and what they are all about is still a little sketchy, but the Football League are satisfied with what they are all about, as is Thomas who has been dealing with their representatives since before Christmas.

Those supporters who are concerned will point to instances where clubs have been mismanaged, and there are plenty of instances of that happening.

But for every Leyton Orient there is an AFC Bournemouth, for every Leeds United there is a Huddersfield Town, for every Birmingham City there is a Southampton, and the list goes on.

I don’t have a crystal ball, nobody does, and as everybody knows - there are no certainties in football.

There is nothing that guarantees success, on or off the pitch.

But I do think that Kelvin Thomas, and his judgement, deserves to be trusted.

He has done more than enough to suggest he can be relied upon to do the right thing for Northampton Town FC, as he has done since he rescued the club from near-oblivion back in November, 2015.

The fact he is still in charge of the club, and his Northampton Town Ventures are still major shareholders, is surely a huge reassurance that this partnership with 5USport is the next step along the path of ensuring the Cobblers goes from strength to strength.

But the future has no script.

Whether 5USport’s investment proves to be a success is going to be one where the proof will be in the pudding, and we are just going to have to wait and see what it tastes like.

The next chapter in the long history of the great club that is Northampton Town is now being written.

Will it have a happy ending? Time will tell, but let’s hope so.