The continuing Kettering saga
Posted by John Beech on May 30, 2010
The descent of Grays Athletic must have struck a worrying chord with Kettering fans. Back in January I blogged on their tribulations (under Kettering Town and the Enigmatic Imraan Ladack) in finding somewhere to play as the lease on their stadium comes to a conclusion, and will not be renewed. He had at that point become disillusioned following a protracted confrontation with the Football Association, and announced that he was standing down as Kettering’s Chairman.
Last month he paid the fine he owed the FA and resumed the role of Kettering’s Chairman (1). Not only was he back, he was back at his enigmatic best. Consider this exchange in an interview with Jon Dunham of the local Evening Telegraph (2):
JD: “Do we still call you the ‘owner’ or will you be returning as chairman, as was stated on the website when it said you would be resuming your duties as chairman?”
IL: “I will chair board meetings.”
So, presumably he is Chairman again, but was rather less committal on whether he remains owner.
Another classic exchange in the interview was:
JD: “Can you either confirm or deny the popular rumour about Kettering Town and Rothwell Town merging?”
IL: “I can deny this is a popular rumour.”
I would have to admit that I not only find his answer enigmatic, but also devoid of meaning.
Rothwell Town, which is just over four miles from Kettering and the AA website suggests a driving time of 10 minutes between the stadiums, play in the Southern League Division 1 Midlands, and are in financial difficulty, with debts reported to be £350,000 (3). Things have reached a point that the club has now been forced to withdraw from the Southern League for the coming season (4).
One option would be to sell their social club and car park land, but, from what I can gather, using the social club is probably a more popular activity than attending football matches. It would also seem that the it is the social club which is at the root of the debts.
A second option would be to find a new benefactor, and at least one name is in the frame – Pino Colonna, already a director of Rothwell Town (5). Before his name appeared as a would-be saviour, another benefactor had come forward – one Imraan Ladack (6), offering to pay off Rothwell town’s debts. Precisely what he and Kettering Town might get out of such a deal remains unstated, if open to obvious speculation. However, Ladack has subsequently withdrawn his offer to Rothwell (7).
His focus now seems to be back at Kettering Town’s Rockingham Road. Options he is likely to be exploring are purchase of the ground from the landlord and/or negotiating a new lease. Perhaps he is even trying to rebuild bridges with Kettering Borough Council so that alternative sites for a new stadium in Kettering can be explored. Time is running out though – the club’s lease (which it first acquired on a sale-and-lease-back basis in the eighties) expires in 2012. The pressure is on Ladack to avoid following the path of Grays Athletic.
[Does anyone have any news on what is happening at Cromer Town, where the lease on their ground is also due to expire in 2012?]