Money not only consideration for Cobblers
22 July ~ Northampton Town sharing their ground with Coventry City may prove more problematic than they think. Coventry supporters have been demonstrating against the move since the announcement was made that they will be playing their home games in Northampton for the next three (with an option to extend to five) seasons. But the news that they will have to share their home ground hasn't exactly been warmly received by Cobblers fans either. The main payoff of the deal with City is, simply, the money.
Northampton chairman David Cardoza has been quick to point out the benefits that an additional revenue stream will have for the club and the tactful announcement of plans to extend on the Sixfields stadium – albeit unrelated to the Coventry decision – only drove the point home. Extra money in the manager's pocket will also be welcomed, particularly after a summer window that has seen the departures of players such as Adebayo Akinfenwa, Luke Guttridge and Ben Harding primarily due to a cutting of the club wage bill.
Cobblers manager Aidy Boothroyd – who managed Coventry for a ten-month spell in 2010-11 – has said he has no issues with the move. Speaking to local press, he said helping out a fellow club in need was "the right thing to do", adding that "we won't be painting anything sky blue because it's still our ground". But to suggest that there won't be any disruption to everyday life at Sixfields seems unfounded.
The likely condition of the pitch is a big concern and was in part the reason for Walsall denying Coventry the use of their turf. Northampton's pitch was one of the best in League Two last season, having not missed a single game due to bad weather, but to match this record with twice as many games being played seems unlikely.
Then there's the matter of clashes. Northampton will have preference when fixtures coincide, with the Sky Blues to play any clashing "home" Saturday fixtures on a Sunday, and mid-week games on a Wednesday. So far there are 11 clashes with the initial league fixtures, but add to this cup-ties and rescheduled games – both for weather and televised matches – and things start to look somewhat convoluted.
There are other implications for Northamptonshire council: the extra stewarding and matchday policing to cover the Coventry games may cost the town as much as £100,000. There have also been concerns raised about traffic by local residents who already have to deal with the problems caused when both Cobblers and the rugby union club Northampton Saints play at home on the same day (the two grounds being about a five-minute walk from one another).
Overall the feeling is, despite denial from both clubs, that it's going to be a messy and awkward tenure. It will be interesting to see how the relationship is affected should both clubs end up in the same division – Northampton were only a match away from League One last season, while Coventry could be deducted further points should they be unable to prevent liquidation.
Meanwhile, Cardoza's insistence that the process will have little impact on Northampton Town has already hit a rather larger bump with the news that Arena Coventry Limited, owners of the Ricoh Arena, may look to take legal action against the club for "inducing" the move and breaking Coventry's 25-year lease with the Ricoh. An empty threat, Cardoza claims, but it does point towards a rather tumultuous three, maybe five, years. Tom Shepherd