Supporters' Trust withdraw development plan for ACV land at Sixfields after claiming 'pressure' was applied on partnership with Goodwill

The Trust had teamed up with Goodwill Solutions CIC to devise a plan for the ACV land

By James Heneghan
Thursday, 28th July 2022, 10:36 am
Updated Thursday, 28th July 2022, 10:43 am
The disused athletics track at Sixfields.
The disused athletics track at Sixfields.

Northampton Town Supporters’ Trust say they have been 'forced to withdraw’ their development plan for the disused athletics track land behind the East Stand at Sixfields.

The Trust opted to invoke the ACV on the land in April and were given six months to prepare and present a bid to West Northants Council. They teamed up with Northampton-based Goodwill Solutions CIC to devise what they described as a ‘robust and fully-costed business plan’ for the 3.61-acre site.

The proposals were presented to WNC last month but have since been withdrawn, with the Trust claiming in a statement released on Thursday that Goodwill were put under ‘intense pressure from several quarters', including Cobblers chairman Kelvin Thomas.

According to Goodwill's projections, the plan would have yielded profit for the Trust of up to £250,000 a year from a commercial Boxpark development and a lorry park, which would have flexed as a fanzone on matchdays. The plan also included car parking directly behind the East Stand of the stadium.

However, even if the Trust went through with their proposals, they would had to have worked alongside the football club who hold a 130-year lease on the land. The council were also under no obligation to accept any bid.

In response to the statement, the club provided the Chron with the following comment: “The ACV process is a legal process between the Council and the ACV Holder and we await the outcome in early September.

“This is an important week for the club and we remain fully focused on the first game of the season on Saturday. We look forward to seeing as many supporters as possible cheering the team on at Sixfields especially with our increased season ticket numbers this season.”

The club again insisted that the East Stand will be completed should their deal with West Northants Council be signed off despite claims to the contrary by the Trust.

Andy Roberts, chair of Northampton Town Supporters Trust, said: "We have always said that this land at Sixfields should be ring fenced for club and community benefit.

"We believed our partnership with Goodwill would have delivered a viable and imaginative plan for the land which ticked so many boxes for both the football club, its supporters, visiting supporters and the town of Northampton.

"But it now appears that significant pressure was placed on Goodwill to withdraw. The intervention from the club chairman came as no great surprise, indeed we warned Goodwill that it was likely.

"It is the latest in a series of actions by the club's owners and executive, over many years, designed to undermine and discredit the Trust.

"The intervention is even more disappointing, given that the deal the owners have on the table with the council in no way guarantees the East Stand being completed, nor does it provide for any ongoing investment benefit for our football club.”

Roberts added that the Trust will ‘now continue to explore other options for the old athletics track land in the time available to us’.