Poppies exchange contracts with Kettering Borough Council in "massive stride" towards a return to the town
Kettering Town's hopes of coming home have been given another significant boost
Kettering Town have taken another “massive stride” towards their return to the town.
The Poppies have confirmed today (Thursday) that they have exchanged contracts with Kettering Borough Council relating to the purchase of the land known a Frenches Field, which sits between the Scott Road allotments and the Weekley Glebe playing fields in the north of the town.
The site has been earmarked for a new stadium, which will see Kettering come back to the town for the first time since they left Rockingham Road in 2011.
The Poppies have since played at Nene Park in Irthlingborough, Steel Park in Corby and are currently based at Latimer Park in Burton Latimer.
Club owner Ritchie Jeune described the moment as the “start of a new journey” and confirmed full completion of the move back would be dependent on the club securing planning consent.
The Poppies owner said: “Since taking over the club it has been clear that the move away from Kettering is the biggest mistake the club has ever made in the eyes of the fan base.
“As a club we have been working on a variety of options to return back to the town so that we can put that saga to bed once and for all.
“We have achieved a great deal since we took over but a move back to the heart of the town would be the greatest achievement.
“The option for land at the Glebe initially was via conversations with the leadership team amongst Kettering councillors.
“That then became conversations about Frenches Field. The site has a number of challenges to be overcome which everyone is aware of. Just getting to this point has meant overcoming challenges and a lot of hard work and effort of the council officers.
“I would like to thank them and the councillors for supporting us to this stage.
“To the fans I would say, this is the start of another journey, with I am sure more twists and turns before we can kick a ball on the site but this is a new foundation for the club and one which we hope will bring the fan base closer together.
“Full completion is dependent on the club securing planning consent, which will include access to the site, as well as entering into a contract to build the new ground.
“The details of a planning application are to be developed by the club before it approaches the new North Northamptonshire Council with its proposals.”
Kettering Borough Council leader Cllr Russell Roberts said: ““I know I speak on behalf of all members of the Borough Council in saying we are pleased we have done this deal now, whilst Kettering Council was still in being.
“It has been a protracted process, and I must also thank the local allotment society for their constructive approach to releasing what was technically allotment land, to enable this move for the Poppies to go ahead.
“There is still a lot of work to be done to make their dream of moving back to Kettering come true, but we are well on the way now.”
One of the big supporters for the club's move back to the town within the Council was Cllr Michael Brown and he said: "The people and fans of Kettering Town can now celebrate that a journey myself and Cllr Steve Bellamy started with a hotly-debated motion on Wednesday, December 14, 2016 to Full Council has finally become a reality!
"Thank you to everyone, and I do mean everyone, for seeing this through to the end! What a fantastic high-note for KBC to end on!"
Poppies chairman David Mahoney admitted he was delighted the club had reached this point and he believes a "massive stride" has been taken.
“When we announced our intention to purchase land for our new home, we made it very clear that it would take time," Mahoney said.
“Whilst we didn’t envisage any real issues, with the base purchase, we were being realistic and wanted to manage expectations.
“I’m obviously delighted that we have reached this point.
“As well as thanking everyone at the club and our legal representatives, I also want to thank the team at Kettering Borough Council and those at the Allotment Society, who have helped make this happen.
“I keep reminding people that every journey starts with a single step, well we’ve just taken a massive stride in getting the club back to Kettering.”