Supporters Trust take a hard line as Poppies face another crisis

Poppies Supporters Trust chairman Mark Severn
Poppies Supporters Trust chairman Mark Severn

The Kettering Town (Poppies) Supporters Trust have laid down the gauntlet to the club’s owners after confirming they will no longer be making donations without a “clear and transparent structure”.

The Poppies have been thrown into yet more crisis after majority shareholder and former chairman Imraan Ladak arrived back on the scene following the removal of Ritchie Jeune as chairman.

Jeune had revealed he had planned to take the club to a ground share at Corby Town in a bid to cut costs away from Nene Park while also attempting to find somewhere closer to Kettering for the club to play in the future.

The Trust were influential in helping the Poppies survive at the end of Ladak’s reign and threw their support behind George Rolls’ attempted takeover, which ended after he was banned from football activity for five years.

The Trust admit they are unable to “meet rental payments at Nene Park” so, therefore, cannot fight for ownership at present, although they have laid the blame for last season’s financial turmoil at the door of Ladak.

And they have said they would consider organising a boycott of home matches in the future, something that has been suggested in some quarters in protest at Ladak’s return, while also demanding the club’s shareholders now hold an “urgent public meeting” to outline their plans for the future.

The Poppies are due to take on Banbury United at Nene Park this afternoon in the Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division, the level they were demoted to after entering a CVA to clear debts of £1.2m in the summer.

In a lengthy email to their members, the Trust said: “It has been stated by the club’s owner that it is impossible for the club to stay alive without external investment.
“If Nene Park is now an unsustainable venue without external investment, and this investment is not forthcoming what are the terms of the lease that prevent the club’s immediate relocation to a more sustainable venue?

“Given that there is an opportunity of a move to Steel Park, it is important that any obstacles to a move are made transparent, particularly if these obstacles may lead to the demise of the club in a very short period of time.
“Out of necessity, the Trust has conducted bank transactions for the club ever since the its bank account was frozen (following a winding-up petition).

“The club has had ample opportunity to rectify this situation, and given that agreed priorities of payments are not being adhered to, the Trust is no longer prepared to conduct transactions on behalf of the club.
“It is imperative that it is made clear to supporters who is now running the club, what the structure is, and how its relationship with Poppies Events (George Rolls’ company) is to the benefit of the club.
“Without a clear and transparent structure, the Trust will be making no further donations.
Since the move to Nene Park, and despite its stated opposition to the move, the Trust Board has continued to support Kettering Town Football Club, with the ultimate goal of returning the Club to the town of Kettering.

“Without the work of the Trust and the continued support of the fans it is very unlikely the club would have survived the financial turmoil of last season. Turmoil that was brought about by the actions of the club’s owner.
“The Trust is in no position to meet the rental payments at Nene Park.

“We are, of course, ready and willing to meet with any potential investor who is looking for our support.
“It has been suggested that the Trust calls for a boycott of the club’s games in order to speed the removal of its owner.

“The consequence of such an action may well hasten the demise of the club, and such a course would only make sense if a majority of our members were looking to force the Club to fold (in order to facilitate the return of senior football to Kettering, albeit at a much lower level), or someone was waiting in the wings to take on the mantle of club owner.

“The Trust is willing to consider a boycott in the event of either of these scenarios becoming apparent.
“The Trust urges the club shareholders to hold an urgent public meeting where their plans can be outlined and the challenges faced clearly detailed.

It is time all supporters had the truth about the direction OUR club is taking.”