Poppies fans to march on Kettering Council offices to present Rockingham Road petition

Kettering Town's former stadium on Rockingham Road. ENGNNL00120120415152742
Kettering Town's former stadium on Rockingham Road. ENGNNL00120120415152742

Poppies fans will march on council offices next month to present a petition against the decision not to list their old stadium as a community asset.

KTFC Community applied to give their former Rockingham Road ground the status earlier this year, which would have given them the opportunity to come up with the funds should it be up for sale.

But council officers rejected the application, saying there was no evidence of community support or prospect of use within five years.

Fans set up a petition asking them to rethink their decision - and after it attracted 2,500 signatures of support, it will now be the subject of a council debate.

Campaigner Richard Atkinson said: “We’re delighted that we have reached the required amount of signatures to get the council to debate the issue.

“The aim of the petition is to try and keep the prospect of a return to Rockingham Road alive as the ground is still standing, and is yet to be sold off for developing.

“The petition is in no way saying that Rockingham Road is the only, or indeed the best option for the club.

“What all supporters of KTFC want is a stable and sustainable future for the club, after the traumas of the recent past.

“If any option for a long term home for the Poppies was likely to lead to further financial difficulties, then it would be folly to pursue it.

“Rockingham Road is however still seen as the spiritual home of the club by many, and a return there is obviously a romantic ideal judging by the number of signatures on the petition.

“Getting the ACV status would give KTFC Community a chance to bid on it, if it were sold, and would also provide a six month moratorium on any sale, giving any community group a short time to raise enough funds to put in a bid.

“The petition on its own will not secure the ACV status, but it does provide solid new evidence that could be used by KTFC Community to make a fresh application, and we are hopeful that this is what they will do.

“We are also preparing a document to present to the council which outlines what the petition is asking, what we would like Kettering Council to do in response to the petition, and details of why we think many of their published reasons for rejecting the initial application were wrong.”

The club has not played in the town since an ill-fated move to Nene Park in 2011, and currently play in Burton Latimer.

Last month the Poppies announced draft plans for a new 6,500-capacity stadium at their Latimer Park home.

While Mr Atkinson is excited by the plans, he says they must keep all options open.

He added: “The draft plans for the redevelopment of Latimer Park look amazing but are a very long way from becoming a reality, and until a concrete plan is agreed and in place for a permanent home for KTFC it is important to keep all options open and to keep looking for other options too.

“The club have always stated that they would prefer a return to the town and that Latimer Park would be used for training, the youth teams and community work.

“Most Poppies fans would favour a return to the town too, if it were possible, but whilst no option exists for that, Ritchie Jeune and the club have to make plans for staying at Latimer Park.

“Ritchie and the board are doing a fantastic job, and have our full support.

“They clearly have the best interests of the club and the community at heart, and we are confident that a long term future for the club will eventually be secured.

“We believe that Kettering Council should take a pro-active stance in helping promote one of Kettering’s biggest assets, to the benefit of not just KTFC supporters, but the community as a whole.

“It is our hope that the petition can help promote co-operation and collaboration between Kettering Council and KTFC that has not always been present in recent history.”

The march will start at Rockingham Road at 6pm, with the council meeting starting at 7pm.

To find out more about the march, click here.