Jon Dunham - Jeune deserves a chance to give Poppies a future

Northamptonshire Telegraph's sports writers Jon Dunham, Jim Lyon and Alec Swann.
Northamptonshire Telegraph's sports writers Jon Dunham, Jim Lyon and Alec Swann.

By now, hopefully, many of you would have seen this week’s Northamptonshire Telegraph as Ritchie Jeune exclusively revealed to us his vision for the future of Kettering Town.

To cut a fairly long story short, the man who has been at the forefront of a team of volunteers who have helped keep the club alive over the past three months, is hoping to bring the Poppies back to the borough for next season.

A deal is in place for Kettering to play at Burton Park Wanderers’ home ground in Burton Latimer from next season, provided they get special dispensation from the Southern League to allow them extra time to bring it up to the required standard.

A back-up plan of potentially doing another deal with Corby Town to remain at Steel Park is also in place as Jeune attempts to finally find a way forward for a club that has been to the depths over the past few months.

And, regardless of what you make of Kettering’s past, there can’t be much doubt that Jeune deserves an opportunity to lead the Poppies into a new beginning.

For whatever reason, Jeune has stuck around and ensured the club has continued to play football when many thought it was all over for them after their financial problems came to a head in October.

Yes, they are more than likely to be relegated again. And yes, their recent financial history leaves a lot to be desired. But for sheer persistence, Jeune has earned a right to give the club the future he feels it deserves.

But, and there is always a but when it comes to the Poppies, the bigger issues continue to lurk in the background.

Jeune’s hope is that, one way or another, the club’s long-term lease at Nene Park is resolved. He admits that is something that is out of his hands. It remains firmly in the hands of the stadium’s landowner and majority shareholder Imraan Ladak.

No-one can lay any blame at the door of the landlord, no-one forced the club to relocate to Irthlingborough in what proved to be a near-fatal move.

All Jeune, his band of volunteers and Poppies fans can do is hope. But it does make sense to have plans in place should a welcome conclusion come about.

As he said in the paper this week, ‘why should the uncertainty stop us from having a vision?’

There are many elements that need to fall into place for Jeune to take control of the club and lead it into a new era but at least things have been done properly since he completed a deal with Corby Town chairman Kevin Ingram to play at Steel Park for the remainder of this season.

The payments owed to former players have been made and Jeune insists the payments on the club’s Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) have been kept up to date since the move to Corby. What happened before that was not his responsibility, particularly after he was removed as the club’s chairman just a week after taking on the role just before the season started in August.

Does is make what happened before that right? Of course it doesn’t. But everyone has to start somewhere and Jeune doesn’t appear to have done a lot wrong. Indeed, he only seems to be working in the best interests of the club.

Clearly, the fortunes of the Poppies have annoyed a lot of people. It is understandable to an extent. And they have paid the price with a mass reduction in home fans. Clearly people are finding better things to do on a Saturday (or Sunday) afternoon.

But while the chance of a future remains, Jeune seems determined to make it happen and I am sure most fans would welcome a move back to the borough, even if it is not to the town itself.

As has already been said, many things have to happen to give Jeune his chance. There would be no-one more deserving if that opportunity comes his way.