Northampton Borough Council approve Saints loan deal

Northampton Saints Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Northampton Saints wants to use the money to improve facilities at Franklin's Gardens

A council that lost millions of pounds in a loan to a football team has "learned our lessons" and agreed to lend £1.5m to the town's rugby team.

Most of a £10.25m loan to Northampton Town has never been recovered by the borough council and a police investigation remains ongoing.

But the authority has approved plans to lend Northampton Saints money towards the development of its ground.

The council cabinet member for finance said he was "confident" of repayment.

The Premiership club's planned upgrades include creating an indoor training building with artificial turf, upgrading its conferencing and catering facilities and making changes to the car park entrance on Weedon Road.

The loan is expected to provide the council with an income of £90,000 a year and councillor Brandon Eldred told a meeting on Wednesday the loan "made business sense".

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Police are investigating a £10.25m loan made by the council to Northampton Town Football Club

"We have learned our lessons from the past with regards to loans," said Mr Eldred, as reported by the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

"We have never had any problem with the Saints, but if the impossible does happen we have some backup and security on some of the club assets. But I am fully confident that they will pay the money back."

In a report to Northampton Borough Council's cabinet, chief finance officer Stuart McGregor said immediate action could be taken to recover the funds if the rugby club failed to make payments on this new loan and an existing £5.5m loan.

Mr McGregor added the application had been discussed with auditor KPMG, which investigated the council following its multimillion-pound loan to the Cobblers.

Saints chief executive Mark Darbon told the cabinet meeting that the plans would help towards the club's aim of becoming "the number one club in Europe" over the coming years.

The Saints are currently ninth in the Premiership table.

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