Kevin Ingram insists he understands the concerns of Corby Town supporters about the possibility of Kettering Town coming to play their ‘home’ matches at Steel Park on a more permanent basis.
The Steelmen chairman held an open meeting with his club’s fans ahead of last night’s 3-2 win over Wealdstone in the FA Carlsberg Trophy third qualifying round replay to discuss the situation after the Poppies played Redditch United in Corby last weekend as part of an initial one-game agreement between him and Kettering’s Ritchie Jeune.
The Poppies’ home ground, Nene Park, is currently unusable due to the electricity being cut off during their severe financial problems.
During the meeting, Ingram confirmed the Steelmen do have a “manageable” debt of around £200,000 and that a more permanent deal for Kettering to play at Steel Park could bring in much-needed revenue.
Talks have now opened about the Poppies playing in Corby for the remainder of this year, although Ingram confirmed the Steelmen will have priority on any fixture clashes with Kettering likely to play on a Sunday or Monday night in such circumstances.
If a deal was to be done, it would see the Poppies pay £1,000 per game as well as paying a £5,000 bond as Jeune did ahead of the Redditch game.
Ingram also revealed that he believes there are four people in the consortium looking to takeover the Poppies while a deal could be completed next week.
And he moved to ease concerns from Corby supporters about their fears of a merger between the two clubs in the future. “Not on my watch,” was his response.
Other concerns raised centred around the reliability of Kettering to pay for the hire of Steel Park and Ingram insisted that all money would have to be paid up front and if it wasn’t then “the doors will not be unlocked”.
And following the meeting, the Corby chairman said: “I can understand the angst of supporters who have that passion for their football team and an innate dislike for their local rivals, that happens in football.
“I think they just wanted to hear the truth and learn the facts and understand why we did what we did last week and why we might do it again.
“I will always tell them the truth and I have no reason not to.
“We have a big budget to hit yet it is one of the lowest in the league. We have income to bring in and we would like to make a profit so we can start bringing some of our debt down.
“No deal is tied up for them (Kettering) to play here yet, we just started the conversations yesterday.
“I would hope that the people who came along for the meeting will go away and tell their friends, their rival supporters put posts on various forums and websites and say that we are doing good things here.
“I am not a betting man but if I was I would say that Kettering will be playing here again.
“But don’t read too much into that because no deal is done yet.
“Ritchie and I have been talking every day and he is looking to get a deal done until January 1 and if we can get a deal done for a longer spell then fine. They want it, we want it.”
The Corby Town Supporters Trust are holding an open meeting of their own at Steel Park tomorrow (Friday) night to discuss the situation.
It was also confirmed that Leamington was a potential venue for Kettering to play their home games while Ingram also mentioned in passing that the Poppies had now paid up the money owed on their Company Voluntary Arrangement.
Should Corby and Kettering do a deal, the first instance of a clash of home matches will be a week on Saturday. The Poppies are due to host Bedworth while Corby play Hayes & Yeading United in the first round of the FA Trophy following their success last night.