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Club News

THE COBBLERS SHOW, 2 NOVEMBER 2023

Read a transcript of the question and answer session

2 November 2023

Club News

THE COBBLERS SHOW, 2 NOVEMBER 2023

Read a transcript of the question and answer session

2 November 2023

Chairman Kelvin Thomas was the guest on Thursday's Cobblers Show on BBC Radio Northampton (November 2 2023) taking questions from supporters.

For those of you who didn't manage to listen to the show, a round up of the questions and answers can be found here:

What did you think of the performance at Derby?
KT: It was a bit of a nightmare. You can’t really sugar coat it. It was very unlike us, I know results haven’t been fantastic but we have been competitive in every game but we just weren’t at the races at Derby on Tuesday. It was poor and disappointing and all of us at the club felt that way. The result was what it was but it was the performance that was particularly disappointing. It was a rough night but we won’t say the club is broken because of one result, we have had bad results in the past and bounced back well, Newport last season was one example. It won’t define our season but we want to do better moving forward.

Tell us about the budget?
KT: We have been involved in football for a while so we have seen the good times and the not so good. We don’t panic. The reality is we are 18th in the division in terms of budget. That information comes from the EFL. We were 10th in League 2 last year and we got promoted. It is always difficult to know where to set the budget but being 18th we budget to lose around £1 million a year. There are some huge budgets in this division but we are comfortable with the levels we are at. We have always said we will do things sensibly and not put the club at risk. We will not make bad financial decisions. That might not be enough for some people, we get that but as custodians of the club we have to look after the future and not get to a position where we can’t pay the bills. That would be wrong. Once the budget is set, the decisions then are with the playing department but given where we are we think the budget is set reasonably and our challenge is to try and over achieve on that budget. Injured players are part of that budget, they still have to be paid and I think we are still dealing with some of the injuries from last season now.
We may be a bit lobsided as a squad, we may be have too many defenders but that is the circumstances we are in because some players have been signed or retained to cover injuries in defensive positions. We set a budget and we have increased that to sign Jordan Willis but I’m not afraid to say where our budget is because it is realistic. We never said we would have the best budget in League 1 but nor is it the worst either. Of course, it is not just about the men’s first team. Everything needs investment. The club store, the women’s team, the academy etc but we feel we are striking the balance as best we can.

Will we be able to add to the squad in January?
KT: Every January since we have owned the club we have invested and we will do so again. Every year we have done that and we plan to do that again, not in a panic but in a controlled, sensible way. In the first fourteen games we were not looking at mass changes so that shouldn’t change over one game. We have some players out at the moment and when they return it will help but there will be sensible money available in January. Who that might be spent on will be up to the manager, as it should be.

Will we sell Sam Hoskins?
KT: We would not have signed Sam to his new contract if we were looking to sell him. We are not looking to lose players who are contributing like he is. We turned down some very good money for Sam in the summer and that is a form of investment, turning down money for players and selling Sam is not something we are looking to do.

Can you send loan players back in January?
KT: It is always a three way discussion between us, the parent club and the player. Technically you can but it needs all three parties to agree and that works both ways. Usually, if players are playing, clubs are happy that their players are getting experience.

Do you regret not investing in a striker in the summer?
KT: We were close to a striker but that wasn’t a budgetry decision. The player we wanted at the time went somewhere else and yes we are short of front players at the moment but the overall current balance of the squad is still being affected in my opinion by the injuries we had previously and still have in some areas.

Are you looking for investors in the club?
KT: The reality is every club is looking for investment and the right opportunity. We have always said we won’t replace ourselves with ourselves, we don’t see the benefit of that. There are always rumours this billionaire is waiting to take over but that call never seems to come. We will always have a conversation but it has to be in the best interest of the football club. We have had some conversations but they have not gone anywhere and you need to be a very careful with a football club. Everyone wants a Ryan Reynolds figure and that would be great but Ryan hasn’t called us! We would discuss anything with the right person or people. I think there is a lot of trust in us as owners to do the right thing by the football club. It might not be enough for some people but we have never portrayed ourselves as something we are not.

Will the budget continue to go up?
KT: Automatically the budget always goes up. It is a League One budget but at the lower end and that’s probably where we should be at the moment. We spend a lot of money on players, and loan players are not cheap. Everyone says that is a cheap option but it is not, once a player comes out on loan and does well the parent club charge a lot more for a second loan. As owners, we don’t charge interest on our loans, we don’t take a wage and anything that comes in to the club is for the football club. People are shocked that we don’t charge interest, many owners do. They might not take the money but it is charged on their loans. We do everything we can to support the club.

It has been 18 weeks since the Judicial Review outcome. Other clubs working with Buckinghams have found other contractors and have carried on, what is the situation with us?
KT: We are still doing the contracts with Council, plenty of legal paperwork is going backwards and forwards and we are meeting with the Council next week. We are in the final detail of the contracts. In terms of the builders, we dealt with the Buckinghams position. We are talking to three developers currently and hopefully we can make an announcement soon about who that will be but we wouldn’t sign any contract with a developer until the land contract with the Council is signed. After the JR the Council papers stated they expected the process to take nine to twelve months but we all want it to be as soon as possible.
The club is in the position it is because there were some very poor contracts in place when we took over. There were weak contracts in place so we are not afraid to say that if it takes longer to ensure the contracts are right for the football club then it will. We were hammered by some people saying the new big screens would never happen, they did. We were hammered by some people saying the new training centre would never happen, it did. We will take as long as we need for the club to ensure the land contracts are right. If that means an extra week or an extra month then so be it. We have gone this long working on it with the delays caused by the ACV and the JR. If you read the JR the club are actually criticised for trying to push things along, the judge accepted we were trying our best to get something done. We will ensure we do it right, however long it takes and that is how it should be.

Will Kelvin cash in on the land and build across the ACV and then leave the club without any assets?
KT: we have invested £7-8 million on the club and that is a decent investment. The land deal will never generate that sort of money and we are committed to finishing the stand. We never expected these delays. We never expected to have a group of people to be fighting the club in the way they have all this time. We have worked through all that but it is a strange questions because let’s not forget the club didn’t have any assets when we arrived. It only has the land deal as an asset because of us. Whether we use that money to pay down the debt or buy a centre forward we have earned that right to make that decision. The land is a tremendous asset and it is an asset to the club because we made it so. It is a strange question to ask if we are going to run away without any assets, if we leave the club debt free with a training centre and training ground, community pitch, completed stand and one of the best community programmes in the country, that is a hugely better position than we found the club in.

Are you a fan of the club?
KT: I am a West Ham fan but I am also a fan of the club. We are invested in the club, not just financially but emotionally too. I also have other businesses in Northampton and I am a trustee of a local school. David watches the games wherever he is in the world and he comes to the games when he is here. Football clubs are all about people, we love the work in the community and while some want it say this is all about the land, the land was not even an option when we purchased the club. It was forced upon us as things went along because if we didn’t secure the land, the club would have owed a lot of money. We have made a lot of decisions and they have been proved right, the land is a necessity for the club and for the health of the club.

What do you think of the new training centre?
KT: I have not seen it finished yet! It does look fantastic though and it is great for what we need. It has taken a lot of work and we have a lot of people to thank. We are proud of it and we should be, it is a facility we have never had before.

Exeter have invested £3 million in their training facility, Plymouth a similar amount. How much have the club invested in our training facility?
KT: It wasn’t £3 million but it was a six figure sum. Exeter are a bit different. They have a very active and successful Supporters Trust that has raised a lot of money for their club and we don’t have that here unfortunately. Any money that goes in to the club comes from David and I. Their new stand was also paid for by a developer. Our building is not a new build but we did a tremendous job doing a big rehab of the building, adding shower blocks etc. Maybe Exeter did spend more money but we are delighted with what we have and if we have got that for spending less than £3 million maybe we should be commended for that. It is excellent value for money which is what is important.

Will Jon be given more time than other managers in League One?
KT: We have tried to learn the lessons from the past and we do value the stability we have. There were a couple of things forced on us with previous managers and maybe one we changed too quickly and one we changed too late but we are talking about a manager here who has over performed on budget very well and has got 80 points twice in League 2. It is something we have talked about and yes we have to win matches but they are not thoughts that are going through our head. We are very happy with Jon,

What is the club looking for in the assistant manager position? Experience or the cheap option?
KT: I love the cheap option jibe, Colin was a really cheap option! We worked hard to get Colin and I think he is naturally a Championship or Premier League assistant. He has had a few offers before but this one at Southampton worked for him. He knows Russell Martin well, he has a place in the area and they have a realistic chance of getting back to the Premier League. At this stage in his career being able to possibly go back to the Premier League is a big attraction for him. It is disappointing for us, we are sad to see him go but we will take our time to assess. Do we look for someone on the recruitment side, or coaching or both? I think we will look towards experience, we have the younger coach with Marc Richards so maybe someone with experience might be the preference. Sammo is a former manager, former assistant and head of academy and he is ideal to step in to that role for now while we have a discussion. We won’t take the cheap option, it will be the right option.

How does Colin leaving affect the recruitment?
KT: We have lost a part of the process but the scouting network is still in place, headed up by Alex Latimer. Plans for January have already started with Colin involved and maybe we can lean on that contact moving forward. Yes he is a loss but we have been aware of that and we will work to replace. We told Colin many times we didn’t want him to go but we understand that this move worked out for him.

You can listen back here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p0gqgcqr

 


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