The Lights Go Out At Nene Park
The twitching corpse of the club remains with us for now, but death rattle is now clearly audible. Kettering Town were due to travel to Leamington this evening in the Southern League Premier Division, with the club having apparently given assurances that they can raise a team for this fixture. We found out this morning whether such assurances were worth as much as the paper that they are written on. At half past ten this morning,the match was postponed. It is doubtful that it will ever be played. It would, however, have been something of an overstatement to consider so much as the fulfillment of this fixture as being some sort of “victory” for the club. To turn up for a match with eleven players and complete ninety minutes of football is the absolute bare minimum that any club should be able to manage in order to justify its existence.
As frequently happens in situations such as these, Kettering Town Football Club is now involved in a fire-fighting exercise, but the blaze that has been caused by not turning up at Leamington tonight wont quickly fade from memory as another uphill battle rears it head on the horizon almost immediately. Failing to fulfil a fixture is at the upper end of disciplinary offences that a club can commit, and Ketterings dismal admission that they have only had six players available for this match needs no further comment. On Saturday afternoon, though, Kettering Town are due to be playing at home against Bideford Town in a Southern League match, and the small question of how that match might go ahead after, in another act rich in the symbolism of tending to the dead or dying, the electricity at Nene Park was cut off yesterday morning after non-payment of the bill, an act which casts a shadow over whether this match can go ahead, even if manager Alan Doyle can raise a team to take to the pitch in the first place.
After a couple of weeks of relative radio silence, however, at least Imraan Ladak finally spoke publicly yesterday, although little of what he told BBC Radio Northamptonshire was a great surprise to supporters of the club. According to his interview, the fact that the clubs players have not been being paid this season is the fault of this years sponsors, who have not paid his club yet, while he claims that he will shortly be meeting with DRC Locums (former sponsors of the club whose ongoing dispute with Ladak over money has been covered on these pages before), although there will be no legal action forthcoming against them for the time being because of the cost. In addition to this, he claimed that there are three investors looking to buy the club and Nene Park.
This is a bold claim to make – after all, who would want to buy a football club in this sort of state whilst playing at a ground that is turning out to be the graveyard of two clubs in a little over a year? – and, as is familiar in this sort of situation, those “investors” wish to stay “anonymous”, a stock response which only provokes the twin questions of why any new investors would preserve such anonymity to such an extent that no-one seems to even have the faintest idea of who they could possibly be and why the grounds owner Keith Cousins would have any desire to sell it. It’s worth pointing out that at this point that, while Ladak talked about the possibility of this sale, he’s not its owner and that Cousins hasn’t indicated any inclination to sell it. Cousins inherited a ‘clawback’ clause when he acquired Rushden & Diamonds and Nene Park in November 2006. This ensures that the commercial value of the real estate realised from any sale would be split 50/50 with the Griggs Group (who had passed the club over to its supporters trust and held Nene Park in trust) if it is sold prior to 2015. Such a clause makes the idea of Cousins selling the ground prior to its expiry seem fanciful, to say the least.
So, as ever, nothing to do with the Nene Park car crash is in anyway Imraan Ladaks responsibility. No great surprises there. Kettering supporters, however, have long since given up on believing anything that he says nowadays and a story emerged from the clubs supporters forum which, if true, offers a hint as to why. It can be seen here and, if it is true as stated it paints an almost staggering level of disingenuity that, it might even be argued, borders on being perjurious. Ladak has been responsible for the running of that club for some considerable time, now, even if the situation there has become muddied in recent weeks and if the comment on what Ladak said is as it has been painted, it wouldn’t be difficult to reach the conclusion that he was seeking to mislead the court in order to get the electricity switched back on at Nene Park. Without confirmation, however, we can only speculate. Merely the fact that it seems so believable doesn’t say a great deal about many peoples opinions of him.
Meanwhile, at least the chaotic events of last weekend are starting to raise public consciousness of the situation at this club. What effect this may or may not have is debatable, but at least this story of mismanagement is starting to be reported in the media. Kettering Town, meanwhile, remains on a life support machine, and the Southern League and the Football Association have kept their views perfunctory on the subject of how the future of this club may be secured. At the moment, Kettering Town Football Club – or, rather, the people in charge of its custodianship – are bringing the game into disrepute in a way that Ashley Cole could only dream of at the moment. Meanwhile, at Leamington, the floodlights could be left switched off this evening. What passes for Kettering Town continues to slide towards its grave and, as has so frequently been the case at this club over the last fifteen months or so, any result on the pitch most likely would have proved to be considerably less significant than what happens away from it anyway. Nobody could pretend for a moment that this won’t hurt like he’ll, but it’s time to turn off the life support machine.
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