Thomas would be 'very surprised' if Supporters' Trust seek to buy athletics track at Sixfields

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Club would be forced to wait six months if the Trust gives notification of their intention to buy the athletics track

Cobblers chairman Kelvin Thomas says he would be 'very surprised' if the Supporters' Trust decide to bid for the disused athletics track at Sixfields, labelling it a 'spoiling tactic' that would potentially delay work restarting on the East Stand by six months.

The Trust hold an Asset of Community Value on the athletics track and therefore have a moratorium period of six weeks to submit their intention to bid for the asset. If they decide to proceed, they have a further four and a half months to put a bid together.

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However, there is no guarantee that the Trust's bid would be successful and even if it is, the club hold a lease on the land in any case, preventing anyone else from doing any work on it.

The disused athletics track behind the East Stand at Sixfields. Picture: Pete Norton.The disused athletics track behind the East Stand at Sixfields. Picture: Pete Norton.
The disused athletics track behind the East Stand at Sixfields. Picture: Pete Norton.

Thomas said: “As the ACV holder, the Trust are in a position where they have six weeks to say they are going to make a bid and then a further four and a half months to put a bid together.

“The council don’t have to sell it to anybody and we don’t expect the Trust to challenge the ACV because, legally, in writing, the athletics track is going to the benefit of the club and you can see that on the council website.

“The Trust asked if we would consider actually including the whole athletics track for the benefit of the club. As we said at the time, whether it’s NTFC or CDNL, we believe it’s for the benefit of the club anyway.

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“But we listened and if someone has a point, you can only listen to that so we did and the council listened as well and we agreed that the whole athletics track would come under the ownership of NTFC.

“We feel they have got what they wanted in that aspect and we’re fine with that because it was always going to benefit the football club anyway.

“We’re relaxed about that and it’s over to the Trust now because it’s up to them. They do have the option to say they want to buy it but, realistically, that would be the most surprising thing. It is an option but I don't understand why they would do that because we would still own the leases and there is no break clause on the athletics track.

“The football club holds those leases for 130, 140 years so they could buy it but not be able to do anything with it. That would only be a spoiling tactic. We would be very, very surprised if a Supporters’ Trust went down that road - but never say never in football!”

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The club and the Trust have been at loggerheads for several years over the East Stand and land deal saga, and that has continued even after an agreement was struck with the council earlier this month.

"The perception was that we were fighting with the Supporters' Trust but we're really not," Thomas added. "We aren't fighting with them.

"We feel we have given them what they wanted and they now have that protection and the football club has that protection.

"We get tagged into a lot of stuff on social media and it's almost as if the Trust are fighting fans, which is really strange.

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"We're moving on and we're carrying on because we have a football club to run and we want to get promoted and finish the stand."

The Supporters Trust hit back at Thomas' comments in a statement released on Wednesday evening, which read: "The Supporters Trust was extremely disappointed to hear the comments made by club chairman Kelvin Thomas in an interview today.

"At just the point we hoped there could be a new start for the club and Trust relationship on the back of exciting plans the club's owners clearly have for the stadium, Mr Thomas appears determined to discredit the Trust at every turn.

"We would like to make it quite clear that the Trust is not at war with Cobblers fans. We never have been and we never will be.

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"The Trust is also not threatening legal action against any Cobblers supporter.

"Mr Thomas is alluding to an exchange between two private individuals on social media. It has nothing to do with the Trust.

"All that aside, we look forward to working with the club, fans and other stakeholders in making improvements to the infrastructure of NTFC and the stadium after too many years of inaction, unjustifiable prevarication and neglect."

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