Football fans in Kettering have been celebrating after the town’s football club was saved from extinction.
Ritchie Jeune, who has been guiding Kettering Town through the past few months after they nearly went out of business at the end of last year, has become the club’s new owner, ending Imraan Ladak’s controversial eight-year reign over the Poppies.
Mr Jeune delighted supporters who packed into the Northern Lights Police Social Club on Tuesday night when he added his signature to those of Mr Ladak and the other previous shareholders to an agreement that completed the transfer of shares.
The club still has one more hurdle to clear after Rushden & Diamonds (2008) Ltd took over a winding up order on the club.
The case was adjourned in the High Court on Monday and will be heard again on July 22, although during the fans’ forum Mr Jeune confirmed he is confident the situation will be resolved and that the club’s lease at Nene Park is now terminated as a result of the order being brought on them.
The Poppies are now hoping to build a new life at Burton Park Wanderers’ Latimer Park ground in Burton Latimer and are hopeful of starting the new Southern League Division One Central season there.
The forum also threw up a surprise as Neil Griffin, the manager of the Newlands Centre and chairman of the town’s Chamber of Trade, was introduced as a new member of the club’s board.
One of his first announcements was that a shop will be opened in the town centre for the next two months for the club to sell season tickets and merchandise as they look to bring back the support of local people.
Mr Griffin said: “When Ritchie approached me a few months ago, I was the same as everyone else.
“I had three reasons why I would join – Imraan Ladak, Nene Park and bringing the club back to the borough.
“Did I think he would achieve all that? No.
“So I said that if you can I would join, thinking he didn’t stand a chance.
“When he put everything in front of me, I couldn’t believe it but I stuck to my word and here I am.
“It would have been devastating if the club had folded.
“All towns like Kettering need a successful football club and when it moved out of the borough, it devastated the town.
“People don’t realise what it did do to the town, people got used to not going to the football and now it is time to get those back involved.
“This is why we will have a shop open in the town centre for two months.
“I think they will come back and I think the businesses will as well.
“There was a lot of bad feeling but slowly and surely they will see what I have seen.
“I will be involved in that but I am going to be more involved in the football side of things.
“I have been involved in football all my life, I have contacts at all levels and I hope I can help bring a more professional outlook on the football side of things.
“Now the negativity has to go. It is a case of forgetting what has gone on before now. There have been mistakes but this is the re-birth of the club.”
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