Poppies' plans for return to Kettering move a step closer
A deal to purchase land for a new stadium has been approved by the Secretary of State
The Poppies' hopes of returning to Kettering after a decade away have moved a step closer.
The National League North side haven't played in their hometown since they left Rockingham Road in 2011, with the stadium since demolished, and they currently play at Latimer Park in Burton Latimer.
In 2018 the club announced they hoped to be home in five years after agreeing a deal with Kettering Council to buy a piece of land known as French’s Field, just off Scott Road.
Last year it was announced they had another hurdle to clear because the land was designated as allotment land in the 1960s, meaning the purchase would need approval from the Government.
And over the weekend the club confirmed the deal had been given the green light by ministers, paving the way for them to move on to the next stage.
Club chairman David Mahoney said: "The biggest hurdle at this stage was getting approval from the Secretary of State.
"There was no reason why we expected there to be an issue but until you get it there's always a chance that you'll get tripped up."
Mr Mahoney, who declined to disclose the value of the land deal, said there was still some way to go before the club can break ground and start work on their new home.
They will now progress to the final phase of the land purchase and he hopes they might be able to move to the planning submission stage later this year.
The chairman added: "I've only ever been involved with the club at Latimer Park so, being a football fan, I understand why fans want to be back in Kettering.
"If we can pull that off then that would be great news."
Kettering councillor Michael Brown (Ind), a Poppies fan who has fought to find a new home in the town for the club, said: "This is very welcome and positive news.
"It seems like an eternity when I first took Ritchie (Jeune, club owner) down to French's Field to see if he felt if he could make it work, and we built the campaign to 'Find KTFC a Site' from that point onwards.
"Well done to everyone who stood firm and worked together to make this a reality. The Poppies are coming home."
And Poppies superfan Vince Geranio, who owns Vince's Barbers in Hawthorn Road, said: "It's the best thing I've heard in the past 12 months.
"We deserve to come home and we deserve to be back in Kettering."
A Poppies statement thanked Kettering Council for their continued support.