Kettering Town fans are getting ready to descend on Kettering Borough Council to present a petition demanding that the Evo-Stik League Southern club’s old home at Rockingham Road is safeguarded for future use as a sporting venue.
Campaigners are marching from Rockingham Road to their local authority’s offices on Wednesday 28 September after nearly 4,000 people signed a petition calling for their old home to be made an Asset of Community Value.
Launched in response to the Council’s recent rejection of the application by KTFC Community to list the stadium as an ACV and the subsequent outcry on social media over the decision, the petition will be used as evidence to back a second application for the listing by the EVO-STIK League Southern Premier Division club.
If granted, an ACV order would mean the club or fans would be able to bid for the stadium in the future on an open market basis to keep it as a community asset.
The Poppies, who have not played in the town since an ill-fated move to Nene Park in 2011 and currently play at Burton Latimer, still intend to push ahead with plans to develop their current home.
If successful and the funding was available, the club’s fans and officials hope to end up with two venues in the long term, Rockingham Road as their main stadium and Latimer Park as a real community venue for local sports use.
Originally online before 3,800 people signed a paper version to present to their local politicians, the petition was raised independently by Poppies fans led by supporter Richard Atkinson. They are also threatening to go to the Local Government Ombudsman over claims that the Council has broken its own procedures to treat them unfairly.
Atkinson said: “The march is currently attracting a lot of interest, and we are hopeful of a good turn out from Kettering Town supporters and members of the community. It was our hope that the petition could help create a new atmosphere of cooperation and collaboration between Kettering Borough Council and Kettering Town Football club, which has not always been evident in the past.
“In light of the council’s current stance regarding the debate, we do however recognise that this now seems unlikely. Whilst achieving ACV status for Rockingham Road will not lead to an instant return there, it may just help to keep one option open for the club to achieve it’s stated aim of a return to Kettering.”
He added: “Until a ?rm option for creating a sustainable long term future for the club is con?rmed, we believe that all options should be kept open and fully explored.”