Poppies to play at Steel Park as one-game agreement is made

It will be the fans of Kettering Town who are watching from the main stand at Steel Park this weekend
It will be the fans of Kettering Town who are watching from the main stand at Steel Park this weekend
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Kettering Town will play Redditch United at Corby Town’s Steel Park stadium on Saturday.

The Poppies will take to a football pitch for the first time in just over a month after a one-game groundshare deal was agreed between the two clubs just a few days after Steelmen chairman Kevin Ingram said it was “highly unlikely” that the game would take place at his team’s ground.

The deal was agreed between Ingram and Ritchie Jeune, who says he was tasked with trying to get the game on by Kettering’s majority shareholder Imraan Ladak, who is ill.

The move comes after a one-month spell without football for the crisis-stricken Poppies, who have seen virtually a full squad leave the club due to wages not being paid while the electricity at their Nene Park stadium was also cut off.

The deal between the two clubs is for Saturday’s game only for the time being and Jeune has also revealed that Ladak is now in talks with one remaining consortium over a proposed takeover.

He confirmed another party interested in buying Nene Park as well as the club have now pulled out.

However, for the time being, he just expressed his thanks to Corby for their assistance in helping to get Saturday’s Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division game on.

“As a club, we are so very grateful to Corby’s chairman, board and supporters and Corby Borough Council for allowing us to use their ground.

“The work that Kevin has done for us over the last few days with talking to safety officers, the council and the police over the last few days has been amazing and we have to thank him for it.

“At the moment, it is a one-game agreement.

“As far as my involvement is concerned, I was asked by Imraan, who is ill, to step in and see if I could help put the game on.

“With the great help of Kevin and Corby Town, we have managed to do that.”

Ingram, meanwhile, revealed a late night phone call from Jeune following his interview on Monday set the wheels in motion.

The Steelmen chairman said: “Everything I said in the interview on Monday stands true.

“Where there is a will, there is a way and Ritchie and I spoke into the early hours of Tuesday morning and now we have reached an agreement for this weekend only initially.

“It has taken a lot of work to get to this point with discussions with Corby Borough Council, the Safety Advisory Group and the police.

“Ritchie has provided the financial guarantees that we needed. This isn’t a facilities hire yet, Kettering will simply cover the costs that are involved on a one-game basis.

“I am delighted we could help Kettering and I would love to have them here on a longer deal if that is what is desired.

“I know that Nene Park is a very expensive facility and Kettering are no longer in a position to afford it.

“We have been able to help them and it just makes sense that they should come here and play at Corby.”

The Poppies met “certain conditions” to continue playing after Ladak represented the club at an emergency meeting of the Southern League Board last week.

A payment plan for players who have left the club was put in place to enable the club to continue.

However, there are other things hanging over the club with the suggestion that payments on their Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA), which they entered into during the summer to clear debts of around £1.2m, have not been made for the past couple of months.

And, with the move to Corby, what becomes of Nene Park and the 25-year lease the club signed in the summer of last year as Ladak took the decision to relocate away from Rockingham Road, a move that was backed by the majority of fans.

Don’t miss all the full details on this breaking news as well as the latest from both Corby Town and Kettering Town only in tomorrow’s Northamptonshire Telegraph