Cardoza: Cobblers supporters will have stadium they can be proud of

BIG PLANS - Cobblers chairman David Cardoza
BIG PLANS - Cobblers chairman David Cardoza
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David Cardoza believes the Cobblers supporters will soon have a ground they can be proud of and that will help their club ‘move through the leagues’.

This week’s announcement that a deal has finally been brokered over the redevelopment of Sixfields ends a 10-year odyssey for the Northampton Town chairman.

In the past decade, Cardoza’s patience has been tested to its limits, to the point where there have been times he has contemplating throwing in the towel.

His cheque book and bank balance have taken a battering too, with regular payments made to fill in the gaps on the balance sheet when the end-of-season finances are totted up.

Even in the past year, things have not all been plain sailing. The money from the club’s Wembley appearance was not what was hoped for and Aidy Boothroyd has had to use all his powers of resourcefulness in his close-season transfer negotiations.

The tunnel is not as dark as it once was, and sold-out games against Barnet and Cheltenham at the back end of last season provided some flickering hopes of better times.

But a light has now appeared at the end of it, a light that takes its form in the shape of an entirely new east stand and a west stand designed more for modern, 21st-century commercial activities than the community facility it was when constructed in 1994.

Cardoza has been patient and realises the supporters have had to be too. His message to them at this time is one of gratitude.

“I would like to thank the fans for being so patient,” he said.

“We’re finally going to get what we’ve all wanted for so long and a huge thank-you has to go to the council for the support they’ve given us over the past couple of years.

“Now it’s time to deliver a football club that everyone can be proud of and that can move on through the leagues.”

Such words will be warmly received by Boothroyd, who has continually spoken about the club’s potential in what he views as a project.

The manager has proved his qualities by steering the club from the non-League precipice to the play-off final in a little more than a year, while several other facets of the football club are functioning well.

The youth system is producing high-quality players and on several occasions last season, the corporate hospitality areas at Sixfields were fully booked.

But a glass ceiling existed – one that meant Cardoza was always likely to have to pay the annual shortfall in income out of his own pocket.

Under the terms of the redevelopment, that glass ceiling should now be smashed.

“Aidy is well aware of all of this,” he said. “He likes to spend money on players so no doubt he’ll be over the moon.

“Everything has been put in place throughout the football club except for the infrastructure that gives us an ability to generate our own income.

“We’ve never been able to get quite to the level we want to because we just don’t have the money.

“With this, it means we can improve on all fronts.”

There will not, however, be an instant injection of cash. Cardoza has been there before, handing out three-year deals to hugely-paid players at regular points of his first couple of years in charge.

It was a policy that eventually secured promotion but at a significant personal cost. The lesson was duly learned.

In the short term, the policy will be one of taking things slowly. Boothroyd is unlikely to see too much of an impact in terms of his budget until the men in hard hats have moved onto the site – something that is expected to happen in around six months’ time.

But the implication from Cardoza is that when things are up and running, the situation in terms of how much is spent in pursuit of higher-level football will be assessed.

“We’re not there yet,” he said. “When we are we’ll have a look at things like that but that’s not the situation at the moment and it won’t be for a little while.

“We’ll keep going as we are but this is definitely the start of something, it’s just 10 years later than we wanted it to be.

“Imagine where the club would be if we had got this 10 years ago.”

There is a feeling other clubs, with newer grounds, have left the Cobblers behind recently.

It’s a simple equation – more boxes and more restaurant seats lead to more money coming into the club.

“This deal means we can build a stadium that can generate additional income and make more funds available to the first-team manager,” he said. “As a club we don’t have any income from boxes and the corporate side of things on match days because we simply don’t have the space.

“Every other club is benefiting from those things and already we are having to put money in to make up for that shortfall.

“We want to be self-sufficient in the long term and hopefully that will start happening in 12 months’ time.”