The below letter has been sent to the board of the Northampton Town Supporters Trust on behalf of all club staff.
Dear Supporters Trust board members,
We write as a united collective of all of the club’s senior management and full time staff following a period of consultation. This letter to you, the NTFC Supporters Trust board members, is sent without the prior knowledge or consent of Kelvin and David.
There is a lot of experience within the club staff and many of us are long-time supporters of the club, some are even Trust members. Many of our family members are Cobblers fans of many years standing (indeed some of us have served on the Trust’s executive committee in the past so we understand the responsibilities.) Many of our friends and neighbours are supporters of many years standing too. For us working for the club is not just a job, not just something we do to pay the bills, we are fully invested in and care passionately about the club and have a determination to see it prosper. The only time we have spoken out as a staff group before was when we had to speak out and plead with the previous Chairman to step aside when we were staring at the abyss. So this is not a decision we take lightly, but collectively we feel we have no choice because we cannot sit back and allow what we are currently seeing to continue because it is harming the club we all love and we have to tell you, your actions do not represent us or our families, or our friends and neighbours.
If you ask any member of staff at the club, they will all tell you that the current ownership has been nothing but positive since the day that they walked in and saved the club. Why? Because they communicate with the staff and involve them. They have bolstered staff numbers and resources across the club and allowed us to develop and progress too many things to mention. I’m sure they will tell you themselves they may have made the odd mistake but we have seen first hand that they always make decisions with the best interests of the club at heart. This has of course involved significant financing. The club of course lost money before their arrival in any case and we are aware that just running football clubs generally involves financing on an ongoing basis. Staff have always been paid on time and bills paid. Indeed, the club is in a stronger financial position than many in Leagues 1 and 2 and when we hear some of the horror stories from counterparts at other clubs, we think we are very lucky to have the owners that we do!
We have seen that trust board members and advisors have set about making comments on social media platforms and forums that try to discredit both the owners and the club itself. This has been a problem over several years now despite us being informed that it was addressed several years ago and assurances given by the trust board following a meeting that they would address it. But in recent months it has got completely out of control. Feedback and constructive criticism is normal and indeed welcome, but not when that turns into constant negativity towards the club and even as we have seen recently derogatory comments about the club’s community work of which we are all incredibly proud.
The default position from certain trust board members seems to be to rubbish anything the club does and we have stood back and maintained our professionalism. We’ve observed situations where supporters have challenged this and the reaction has been to then attack those supporters. Enough is enough.
The campaign to influence political figures, and to spread misleading information and rumours with the council and to try to destabilise the club and owners has all been seen by the club staff and is extremely worrying and demotivating.
We have seen the social media posts from your board members and advisors that call our work to improve the life of a young schoolboy ‘bol***s’ (sorry for the language but your words, not ours.) We have seen the post that takes the mickey out of those on our Fit Cobblers programme and we have seen the posts that inferred those who go in to our boardroom are a****oles (again apologies, but your words, not ours.) Do these sound like the posts of well meaning individuals who want the best for Northampton Town Football Club? Or are they the posts of those who will be critical of anything and everything the club does as it does not suit their agenda.
We read the constant issue of statements to the media and online, we hear the calls made to the national media during the middle of the play offs last year (who does that with the club's best interests at heart?) we hear the constant whispers the Trust try to spread, the agenda the Trust are pursuing. We are fed up with it and we call on the Trust to stop.
What is abundantly clear to us now is that every demand, every stance and every statement you make isn’t a considered view with the long-term best interests and progression of the club at its heart. Instead, it’s clouded by a position of wanting the current owners out of the club and for the supporters trust to own and run the club.
You have stated publicly that you see any ownership as a “rainy day” option if the club was in crisis. But your actions do not align with this. We believe you are trying very hard to force that crisis situation where this can become a reality to the detriment of the club.
This is evidenced by the questions that you have now put forward and are now withdrawing support for the East Stand development as a result of not getting answers in the format you demand. Firstly, following James and Gareth explaining in detail the process and sharing exchanges with us over a few years, it is very confusing to us that support is now withdrawn after those communications and long meetings where answers have been provided for your key concerns and you previously backed the club’s proposals. Some of the questions raised now even seem to overlap those previous points. Why did you not ask these questions at that point in late 2020 before publicly backing the deal? What’s changed? Did you not think of these questions then? Were they not important then but are now? If this is purely about whether you can back the proposal for the development of the land and completion of the stand, why would questions about ownership be asked? How are they relevant to any decision about the land and East Stand? We believe that the truth is that your actions aren’t about the proposal – they are about an agenda of trust ownership.
From taking a brief look on social media platforms and forums it can be seen that many supporters share this view. Through its agenda of ownership, campaign of doing down the club, trying to muddy waters and spread misinformation the Trust has completely lost its identity and connection to what it represents and stands for. As a staff, we believe that these actions are not those of the majority and certainly don’t think that these actions are consistent with the overall belief of the trust members.
Above all else, we write on behalf of all club staff as a collective to request that the trust board:
i) takes a long hard look at the actions of some of its board members and advisors and put an immediate stop to unmerited attacks on the owners, the club and even the community trust’s work,
ii) considers the core values of the Trust and what it stands for in all dealings with the football club, its owners and other key stakeholders of the club,
iii) puts at the heart of any decision or statement it makes the true best interests of the club and is not affected by an agenda around supporters trust ownership.
We do believe that like us and like all supporters, you do care passionately about the club and want to see the club progress and be successful in the short, medium and long term. However, we feel that in recent years you have become detached from your mission statement, what the trust did and should stand for and why it was created.
We encourage you to take note of the contents of this letter and the spirit in which it is intended for the good of the club. Thank you for listening and Up The Cobblers!
Signed by all full time staff of NTFC