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The surprising impact Northampton Saints Premiership victory could have on 'city' status

BY Jack Tunney  ·  Tuesday Jun 11, 2024

Northampton Saints’ victory over Bath Rugby at the weekend has potentially brought about more than just pride and celebration within a rugby community – it has also opened the door to much wider ramifications on the town itself. 

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Speaking to the BBC, the chairman of Northampton Saints, John White has explained how this victory “could help the town become a city”. 

Currently under ‘town’ status, White has labelled the Premiership victory as the catalyst for the town to become a city.

“Northampton is understated – it’s had its issues but it’s well serviced for elite sport” he said.

“I believe that [local councils] are very supportive of elite sport and they’ve got the initiative to drive this place forward.

“We could get city status, and this could have started it, this process over the weekend.”

It won’t be as easy as simply justifying a rugby final victory to gain city status, as there are plenty of holes to jump through first. According to the house of commons library, for a town’s application for city status to be accepted, it must fulfil three criteria:

  1. A minimum population of 300,000.
  2. A record of good local government.
  3. A “local metropolitan character”.

Although any of these might be used to justify the popular use of the term ‘city’, in formal terms UK city status is granted by the monarch, on the advice of ministers. In recent decades, city status has been granted following a structured decision-making process. So to fully gain city status, Northampton will need to be officially granted by ‘letters patent’ – meaning a document that is officially issued by the monarch.

NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND – JUNE 09: The team make their way to the Guildhall on the open top bus during the Northampton Saints trophy parade on June 09, 2024 in Northampton, England. Saints claimed victory in Gallagher Premiership Rugby Final against Bath Rugby. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Speaking about the “six-year journey” Northampton Saints have been on, White explained exactly how the club have gotten to where they are now.

“It started with getting Chris Boyd over here knowing that he didn’t have a bottomless pit to use.

“He addressed that by giving the academy boys a lot more playing time, and they’re the stars of today, people like Furbs [George Furbank] and Fraser Dingwall.”

The factor that has made the victory yet more sweet for the club is that they had to control “strict financial discipline” at the club “and that’s why it’s so satisfying to win because we haven’t done it with an open chequebook”.

“The players get the accolades and rightly so, but there’s a lot of people behind the scenes who’ve worked tirelessly and put us where we are and I’m really proud of those people.”

Northampton Saints youngster George Hendy seals the Premiership title | Rugbydump

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In the latest episode of Walk the Talk, Jim Hamilton chats with double World Cup winner Damian de Allende about all things Springbok rugby, including RWC2023 and the upcoming Ireland series. Watch now for free on RugbyPass TV

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