NORTHAMPTONSHIRE chairman Martin Lawrence believes the club have made a “significant” step forward with the acquisition of the freehold on their Wantage Road headquarters.
The club have paid an undisclosed six-figure sum to purchase the property from the Cockerill Trust, who have been the custodians for over a century, with the funds coming from money left to them by their former president, the late Lynn Wilson.
And Lawrence now thinks the club will be in more control of their future, an important factor as they seek to fulfil their oft-stated ambition of becoming the best non-Test match ground in the country.
He said: “About five years ago, when I was getting involved in the club, I remember sitting down with Lynn Wilson and him saying that the best thing I could do would be to get control of the freehold for the ground.
“It wasn’t easy because it was a difficult negotiation.
“But I’m sure if he is watching down he’d be absolutely chuffed that we own the ground.
“We’ve always wanted to do it. Douglas Iles, who is on our board, runs a legal company who have been incredibly supportive and helpful in getting this through.
“It gives us much more freedom to develop it however we wish.
“To the average spectator it won’t make a lot of difference but to those involved it’s very significant.
“We all believe it’s an important step for us.”
The club will now have more bargaining power when it comes to securing finance as they have an asset to borrow against.
But, while Lawrence indicated that the Wantage Road side of the ground is in line for development at some stage, he admitted that no snap decisions will be made.
He added: “We’re looking to develop the ground further when funds are available and owning the ground gives us security going forward.
“In the short term we’ve got to look after our squad and it’s important to get the balance right between the cricket side of things and the ground.
“I’m looking at maybe a five-year plan and possibly a small hotel or a block of flats but we haven’t made any decisions yet.”