Council says 'no thanks' to £2million Sixfields land bid to get Northampton Town stand finished

Club owners' £890,000 deal set for approval with strings attached to complete building work

By Kevin Nicholls
Monday, 14th February 2022, 11:53 am
Updated Monday, 14th February 2022, 2:21 pm

Councillors will be asked to turn down a chance to more than double their money to take a deal which makes it more likely the East Stand finally gets finished at Northampton Town.

West Northamptonshire's Cabinet is considering approval for a scheme to transfer a wedge of land next to Sixfields stadium — on condition the eyesore stand is completed within five years.

A deal looked set to go through in December, which would have seen Cobblers owners Kelvin Thomas and David Bower buy the land AFTER finishing the stand.

Promises of the new East Stand being finished could finally be realised if a council deal gets the go-ahead

Thomas and Bower's company, County Developments (Northampton) Limited (CDNL), will still pay £890,000 despite a report to go before a special council meeting on Monday (February 21) revealing a deal last year was held up to consider a rival bid of more than £2 million from a property developer.

The document, published late on Friday, confirmed Cilldara Ltd offered £2.05 million although accepting that bid would likely result in costly legal battles with the football club over leases.

Cobblers owners stand to get 22 acres — equivalent to around 20 football pitches — including the former running track, green space and areas currently used for car parking plus a pocket of land off Walter Tull Way between the council-run Household Waste and Recycling Centre and leisure and retail units.

CDNL currently leases the land bounded by Tweed Road to the east and Edgar Mobbs Way to the south.

Land including green space and a former running track could be sold to Cobblers owners

Any counter deal would need West Northamptonshire Council to break that lease.

The report reveals: "Following media coverage, the council received an unsolicited offer from Cilldara Limited.

"The offers have been carefully considered. The conclusion is that, on balance, the CDNL offer is to be preferred on financial grounds.

"Whilst it is lower, it is not subject to the risk and delay likely to result from an attempt by the council to break the main site lease.

"It is anticipated that CDNL would robustly challenge any attempt by WNC to terminate the Main Site Lease. Litigation is likely to be expensive and time-consuming and of uncertain outcome.

"Accepting the CDNL offer removes those risks and makes it more likely that the East Stand will be completed."

Bower and Thomas will pay the money up front but will be tied into legal requirements that the East Stand must be completed before any development on the purchased land.

The report adds it could take up to nine months to complete the deal if it is approved at a council Cabinet meeting on February 28.

The club would then have a five-year deadline to finish work on the East Stand — originally started by former owners David and Anthony Cardoza in 2014 using money loaned by Northampton Borough Council.

If the work is not done in time, terms of the deal mean the council could buy back the land for £1.

Monday's special meeting of the full council will be live-streamed on YouTube.

The land under consideration requires extensive and costly remediation work before it can be developed, which limits its value.

Cllr Malcolm Longley, Cabinet Member for Finance, said: “As this is a complex issue, with significant historic sensitivities, it is felt vital that all of our councillor colleagues have a chance to discuss it before our Cabinet meeting, through a publicly accessible Full Council meeting.”

Cobblers revealed new plans for the East Stand last year including executive boxes and hospital areas which would increase the stadium's capacity to just over 8,000.

Chairman Kelvin Thomas welcomed news the deal is back on, saying: "The council have rightly followed their own very robust process.

“Obviously with a competing bid it did add another level of detail required for the council however our offer is the only one that will deliver the completion of the East Stand and keeps the ownership within the football club, rather than with unknown property developers.

"This is something that every fan of the club would have been concerned about."