Northampton Town: Chris Wilder would welcome new owner

Chris Wilder
Despite their off-the-pitch troubles, Northampton boss Chris Wilder has guided his side to fourth place in League Two

Northampton Town manager Chris Wilder says he would relish the prospect of working with former Oxford United chairman Kelvin Thomas once again.

Thomas has begun initial negotiations to take over at Sixfields but needs to agree a deal with Northampton Borough Council over a £10.25m loan.

Wilder worked with Thomas during his six-year stint as Oxford manager.

"He's not in it to make money or gain anything but to run a football club how it should be run," Wilder said.

Thomas appointed Wilder as Oxford boss in December 2008 with the club lying 13th in the Blue Square Premier table.

Wilder steered the U's to a seventh-place finish that campaign and sealed promotion back to the Football League through the play-offs the following season.

"The club was not in a great position before Kelvin came and he changed things around off the pitch and together we changed things on the pitch as well," Wilder told BBC Radio Northampton.

"He made it work off the pitch financially and gave me as much as he possibly could to improve the team and make the club better going forward."

The club's current situation

The incomplete East Stand at Sixfields Stadium
Despite work starting in March 2013, the new East Stand at Sixfields Stadium is still not complete

The £10.25m the club owes to the local council was borrowed to pay for the incomplete redevelopment of the East Stand at Sixfields, which is set to include a hotel and conference centre.

The Cobblers were handed a winding-up petition by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) earlier this month which related to money outstanding following delays to an earlier takeover involving an Indian consortium who pulled out.

This week, after the club's bank account was frozen, chief executive James Whiting said that there was "every chance" that players and staff would not be paid on time.

Current chairman David Cardoza now plans to sell the club to Thomas who said it is too early to say whether a 'sensible deal' can be reached to proceed.

The fans' role in the club

James Averill, a board member of the Northampton Town Supporters' Trust, told BBC Radio Northampton the club's current situation still needs to be questioned whoever takes over.

"Even if Thomas does come in, whatever the outcome, there are still questions that need to be answered by Cardoza," he said.

"The trust has put a lot of time and energy into trying to find out what happened and we believe he has some serious questions to answer."

Averill played down the possibility that fans could take ownership of the club, following in the footsteps of Wycombe Wanderers and Portsmouth, because of the financial situation.

"Having fans running the club is a good thing to aspire to, but the reality of the situation and whether it's possible is very difficult to say," Averill added.

"I think the figures involved are well beyond the trust at the moment and there would have to be a serious debate among the fans whether it's something that we have the stomach and fight for."

A player's perspective

John-Joe O'Toole
Northampton Town midfielder John-Joe O'Toole has scored twice in 11 appearances for the Cobblers this season

The team has enjoyed a good start to the season despite the off-the-field events with the Cobblers sitting fourth in League Two.

Midfielder John-Joe O'Toole says the team need to maintain their focus on the pitch despite the possibility that players and staff might not be paid.

"You've got to grin and bear it," O'Toole said. "Hopefully it's resolved sooner rather than later but you've got to carry on doing well in the games.

"That is the main focus as opposed to not getting paid and I hope it gets solved sooner rather than later.

"As a collective we've been really strong, especially in the last four or five games, but I am sure that will only benefit us through this hard little spell if we stick together."