Chairman Thomas reveals talks are ongoing with potential new investors, but says it is business as usual at the Cobblers
Cobblers chairman Kelvin Thomas has revealed there are three different parties in talks to invest in or buy the club, and has quickly moved to reassure supporters that it is very much business as usual while those negotiations are ongoing.
Thomas and fellow directors David Bower and Mike Wailing have been keen to find new investment for the club since the breakdown of the relationship with Chinese company 5USport at the back end of 2017.
They have also made no secret of the fact they would also be willing to sell the club if the right person with the appropriate financial backing came along, and Thomas has now confirmed that talks are taking place with interested parties.
The chairman has been laying low for the past few weeks in terms of making public statements, but he was at the PTS Academy Stadium for the recent fixtures with Wycombe Wanderers and Cheltenham Town.
He hasn’t wanted to talk while the negotiations were ongoing but, speaking to the club’s iFollow video service on the official website, Thomas felt it was time he had to quash some of the rumours and speculation that have been flying around on fans’ forums and social media.
The most disturbing of those rumours was that the club was heading towards administration, but Thomas rubbished such a scenario, and insisted the club is still very much on a sound financial footing, and will be until when, or if, he and his partners do walk away.
“These times always create rumour and speculation,” said Thomas, speaking from his home in Florida.
“The truth is these situations are fluid and moving, and we have been very open about the fact we would welcome new investment, and even a potential sale. I think we talked about that in the summer.
“I have not been as communicative as normal, because these situations don’t always allow that, and you always want to make an announcement when you have some information, but I thought it was about time I said something and brought fans up to speed.
“We are talking to various groups, and there are probably three groups now that are interested in becoming involved in the club.
“All those discussions are ongoing, varied, with different levels of investment and involvement.
“The reasons we are having these discussions is what is in the best interests of the football club.
“I talked in the summer about myself, David and Mike as well, in terms of energy levels and other commitments, so it is very important we find the right group or party to have that energy, and the finances in place.”
Thomas, Bower and Wailing have been in control of the Cobblers since November, 2016, taking over in the wake of the football club very nearly going to the wall under the stewardship of David Cardoza.
They ensured the club survived, with Thomas always insisting he would never allow the club to suffer such a trauma again, and he reiterated that stance.
“We have always said the club would never be in the situation it was when we picked it up,” said the chairman.
“Results haven’t been what we wanted at the start of the season, but that hasn’t affected what’s happening off the pitch, that hasn’t affected the club.
“We are funded, and we made decisions in the summer that probably saw that level of funding increase rather than decrease, and we were hoping for improvement on the pitch in terms of results, but that will come.
“People have made ridiculous statements about the club running out of money and going into administration and that kind of stuff, which is typical rumour mill stuff.
“It is just made up some of that stuff, and that is why you don’t focus on the forums or social media, because the reality is different to what is sometimes said.”
Another major frustration for Cobblers supporters, and has been for some time, is the lack of development of the east stand.
It has also been a huge frustration for Thomas, but he insists things are still moving forwards behind the scenes, but that a little more patience may still be needed – especially if new owners were to come in, and perhaps have a different vision for the project than the current board does.
Asked about the east stand development, Thomas said: “There is no timescale on that.
“The Supporters’ Trust came on to us last week and have put out a statement, and there is frustration and I have empathy with that.
“But the reality is positive conversations are going on with (NBC chief executive) George Chandler and his team, and it has been very good since George has come on board and we are in discussions.
“But there is a reality that our other discussions in terms of the club and investment, it gets rolled into that.
“It would be unrealistic for us, and unrealistic for anyone to think that we get the right approvals and then suddenly the building work starts the next day, when we are in the middle of discussions about investment and purchase.
“Other people coming in may have different commercial ideas about what their plans are, and what they want to do with the stand.
“We appreciate that, and they do formulate part of our discussions with other groups.
“We have our ideas and have plans in place, and the Trust have seen those plans a couple of meetings ago.
“The council have seen those plans and it is pretty straightforward as realistically they aren’t dissimilar to what we talked about two-and-a-half years ago at a fans’ forum.
“There was a misconception that the approval from cabinet was the green light to just go ahead and build, well that wasn’t necessarily the case.
“The approval of cabinet was for the officers to go ahead and complete the legal paperwork, which we are doing.
“We are committed to ensuring the club is as clean and as healthy as possible if we do pass it on, or if somebody comes in for investment, and that includes the leases and the land and the club’s position there.
“What we are trying to do is ensure the football club has the land it should have had in the first place.”