Kettering Council say the decision to reject a bid to list the Poppies’ old stadium as an asset of community value cannot be overturned - despite a petition amassing more than 1,000 signatures.
The bid by KTFC Community was turned down earlier this month by council officers, who felt there was no prospect of use within five years or evidence of community support.
The club have not played in the town since an ill-fated move to Nene Park in 2011, and currently play in Burton Latimer.
Cllr Michael Brown (Con, Brambleside) has played a big part in trying to bring the club back to Kettering.
He said: “This petition, which has been started independently by the community, seems to demonstrate that, in this instance, Kettering Council officers made a regrettable and incorrect judgement on the level of community value for the asset of Rockingham Road Stadium.
“I very much support the people of Kettering in their efforts to prove that, in this case, the grounds on which this refusal for a listing of community value were made are false.
“I hope that this leads to Kettering Council officers to re-evaluate their position in light of this evidence.”
Once a petition reaches 2,500 signatures the issue must be debated at the council.
But Kettering Council’s head of democratic and legal services Sue Lyons says the only option available if the Poppies want to challenge the decision is through the courts.
She said: “When the council receives a nomination to list an asset as an Asset of Community Value (ACV) it must look at all the information and consider whether it meets the criteria set out in the Localism Act 2011.
“The nomination of the Rockingham Road Football Stadium failed to meet the criteria for the reasons already given on the council’s website.
“The decision not to list Rockingham Road cannot be reversed by the council.
“The nominator of an asset has no legal right of appeal under the legislation, this is only available to the landowner whose property has been listed as an ACV.
“If KTFC wanted to challenge the decision the only option currently available is by judicial review through the courts.
“Alternatively a fresh application for nomination could be made, however, the nomination it would have to provide new evidence to show that the land meets the criteria as set out in the legislation.”
Mrs Lyons also says that even if it was overturned, the listing would not give the Poppies any automatic right to the ground.
She added: “It is important to note that the only rights that the listing of an asset gives to the community group is a period of 6 months to find the funds to bid for the property if it comes up for sale on the open market.
“It does not give the community an automatic right to buy the asset or even to have first refusal when it comes on the market.
“There is no obligation on the owner of the ACV to sell the asset and there is no restriction on what the owner can do while they own it or the asking price when it is put on the market.
“This means that the community bid may not be the successful one.
“There is more information about the process and how land qualifies for listing of land as an Asset of Community Value on the council’s website.”