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The Decline & Fall Of Leyton Orient
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Tranmere Rovers & Cheltenham Town Stare Into The Abyss
When The Borough Council of Kings Lynn and West Norfolk awarded the lease to The Walks stadium to the Chapman family last year after the collapse of Kings Lynn FC, this can hardly be what they had in mind. The Chapmans have been acting with antagonism towards the clubs supporters trust, The Blue & Gold Trust, for some considerable time but this division has hit a new low with the behaviour of the club’s owners this week. Chairman Buster Chapman has been reported as seeking to ‘distance the club’ from a trust, some of whose membership have already been highly critical of his stewardship of the new club, Kings Lynn Town.
Itis, of course, his right to do this. It may not be wise – there is scarcely a non-league football club in the country that can afford to alienate sections of its support with such clumsy attempts at what looks from this distance like divide and conquer – and he may well find that he pays the price for such fighting talk at the turnstiles at the start of next season, but it’s his decision. Where those running the club seem to cross a line in the sand in terms of petulant behaviour, however, is in issuing legal threats to the supporters trust over the ownership of the domain name of the trust’s website. The trust’s website has been around using the domain name that it holds for several years, now. It was, for some time, the official site of Kings Lynn FC. When that club went bust, though, it reverted to being an unofficial site and has, since then, been the site of the Blue & Gold Trust. The legal argument put forward by the club is certainly an interesting one:
“Under Common Law, ‘The Linnets’ is a trademark belonging to the club and the Trust has no permission or right to use it. The club have been known as ‘The Linnets’ for nearly 135 years and we have suggested the trust should instead use their own domain name, ‘blueandgoldtrust.org.uk’, which is more accurate in representing who they actually are. I hope they will adhere to this request with the minimum of fuss so both parties can avoid any costly legal bills.”
The use of the phrase “Common Law” is important, here. It means that Kings Lynn Town FC has never registered the name “The Linnets” as a trademark. The statement claims that, “The club have [sic] been known as ‘The Linnets’ for nearly 135 years”, but Kings Lynn Town FC is not the same club as Kings Lynn FC. It is a new club and a new company, playing at the same ground and in the same colours as the old one. It has not existed for 135 years. It has existed for a year and a half. This statement may have been to imply that the Chapmans hold Prior Rights (the ability to defend a trademark on the basis of having used used it for a period of time so that it has acquired local distinctiveness) to this trademark, but it’s difficult to see how they can lay claim to this when there are even other football clubs – Burscough and, most noticably of all, Runcorn Linnets spring immediately to mind – with the same nickname. Nicknames can be registered as trademarks, and further information on the Nominet domain name dispute resolution service is here. There has been little in the recent language of the Chapmans that suggests much interest in anything other than denigrating the trust, though.
The one thing that can be said for this particular website is that it doesn’t in any way attempt to pass itself off as the official website of the club. Indeed, a blue bar across the top of its home page states quite boldly that it is, “Blue & Gold Trust Official Website”. This, however, doesn’t seem to be the issue at play here. What the Chapmans seem bothered by is the criticism of them coming from the website’s forum. We are not going to go into the rights and wrongs of criticisms of the Chapmans that have been made over the last year or so. It is, however, worth remembering that the owners of the club have legal recourse should they be libelled, but also that criticism is part and parcel of owning a football club. If they do not want this criticism, well, no-one forced them to take over the running of the club in the first place and no-one is forcing them to stay.
The supreme irony of the recent actions of the Chapmans is that they have thrown the divisions at the club into the public arena in a way that would never have happened otherwise. These remain economically difficult times and, as we mentioned above, there are few clubs that can be affording to alienate its supporters at the moment. If, say, fifty people were to a look at this story and decide that Kings Lynn Town, under its current ownership, isn’t really worth the bother any more, then their non-engagement in the club would be likely to amount to thousands of pounds in lost revenue over the course of a year – through gate receipts, bar sales and other commercial activity. The Chapmans should, perhaps, weigh this up when claiming that, “unsubstantiated allegations contained on the Trust’s website that have, and may again in the future, detrimental effect upon the club’s capacity to secure sponsorship”. Exactly what size of sponsorship deal a club in the United Counties League could have had jeopardised by forum comments remains, again, unknown. In the meantime, the Chapmans seems happy to say, “it’s our way or the highway”. It will be interesting to see how many Linnets – if they are still allowed to call themselves that – choose that highway.
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Ian began writing Twohundredpercent in May 2006. He lives in Brighton. He has also written for, amongst others, Pitch Invasion, FC Business Magazine, The Score, When Saturday Comes, Stand Against Modern Football and The Football Supporter. Ian was the first winner of the Socrates Award For Not Being Dead Yet at the 2010 NOPA awards for football bloggers.
Maybe the person that wrote this article should take some time, over a period of time, to actually study the Trust’s website, and moreso the forum.
The Trust have a legal and moral responsibility to ensure that all postings are appropriate. They do not do this.
From libelous accusations to members openly posting downright lies, and personal attacks and crudity. You will never find anything posted on the forum is “the Trust’s fault” and everything that isn’t liked is the fault of the Chapmans. If the Trust are criticised, then the post doesn’t tend to last too long, or is requested to be modified before posting. Posts that are libelous, personally abusive, vitriolic, negatively critical without foundation, or crude are left on there, as long as the target is the Chapmans.
The Trust openly encourage fans to drink and socialise away from the ground on match days, and have even, unbelievably, arranged fund raising events with the proceeds going to ANOTHER CLUB! They also think just because something is done “differently” then, in the opinion of the Trust, it is wrong, if it doesn’t meet with their approval.
How many cinema goers insist on seeking out the manager after a showing and wanting to know how much people are paid, and how much profit is made on the popcorn? How many parents would see their child beaten on a daily basis for a whole year by another child and invite the aggressor for tea? None!
It’s high time the Trust and many of it’s posters grew up and accepted the fact that they didn’t get the club, and the better choice was made by the local authorities, for the better of the town and the local community.
Maybe if they had done this from the very beginning, things could have been different?
I’m sorry, twohundredpercent, you appear to have jumped onto a bandwagon and sided with a party without knowing even a small percentage of the history. As I said at the beginning, spend some time studying the forum, and see the irrelevant personal attacks, lies, and libelous comments and then decide….
I have sat and watched the carry on at Kings Lynn since the Trust lost its bid for the club and have been amazed at the vitriol and abuse that has been hurled at the Chapmans. Occasionally I have commented on the situation myself on the forum.
I have now been banned from posting on the forum, presumably for pointing out that the strap line at the bttom of the forum states ‘the moderators reserve the right to remove any messages considered to be abusive or defamatory.’ whilst then allowing posters within the last week to, amongst other things, accuse the Chapman’s of lying in their application.
There are aaproximately ten diehard anti Chapman posters on the board who delight in complaining and congratulating each other for discovering another mistake that theChapmans have made, whilst always being prepared to acknowledge that it is probably the Chapmans lack of experience that creates these problems; notwithstanding Buster Chapmans history as the promoter of Kings Lynn Stars, a significantly more succesful enterprise than the Footbal team has been in recent years.
On the other hand anybody, like myself who questions the motivation of the mutual admiration society is accused of being either a Chapman in disguise or in the Chapmans pocket, despite being advised that I wouldn’t even know them if I stood next to them at a game.
Finally you will know doubt be aware that this article is now being touted on said forum as a totally impartial neutral’s perspective on the issue, which is now attracting national media attention.
At least you might be alowed to post on thier forum then.
To put the record right, I am the Trust member, not official in ANY capacity who organised a lads night over a game of table top football to raise a few quid for Rye Utd FC. This was because whilst trawling the forums around the leagues, i found that Rye have regular subbuteo nights to raise funds for a new clubhouse after the last one was burnt down. We played Rye in the Trophy, beat them, and thought that raising a few quid would a be good thing to do from one football family to another. Its what football families do. We know all to well what support is as when our last club went pop, many fans from around the country held out the hand of friendship to us. I am also a sponsor for the FAN OWNED website in question. The Blue and Gold Trust are also sponsors of the website.
For information, I am also a member of the Labour Party, the National Trust, Norfolk Wildlife Trust, Wiggenhall Football Club and many other organisations. I will continue to raise money for whom ever i want as I have done for the last 30 yrs or so of my life. The biggest fundraiser I have held in the ‘shed’ in the last 7 yrs was for HELP FOR HEROES’ All of these events have been document and highlighted in the local and national press. I am also in the process of ‘sponsoring’ a football kit for some friends from another Famous old Non League Club in South East London, for the supporters Team.
With regards to the Chapman baiting as described above. I am one of the people who regularly criticise when things are not good. IE, my constant gripes about the 2 x A4 sheet of paper that was called a programme. I met with the club, told them to their face what I thought and it has been changed. It is not much better and I have complimented them publicly for that. The same goes for the website. The official club website was crap, we moaned like billyo and finally it has been changed and looks extremely professional.
It is not an ‘US vs THEM’ as some people seem to enjoy portraying, it is all about doing the right thing, all the time.
Finally, the moans that some are attributing to Trust itself is totally unfounded as NON of the Directors or officials actually post on the forum! And they haven’t for the last 6 months or so. This is something I have openly criticised them for as I think they should be more vocal and not leave all the fan concerns to the fans!
Kings Lynn Town FC will have to learn that football has been around long before the Chapmans.
We do not ‘deposit balls in other peoples areas’ we score goals. This has been one almighty own goal by the Chapmans and a fight we, the fans are ready to take head on.
Former Community Police Officer of the Year (Met) Finalist 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999,
Honoury Citizen of Old Southwark of the London Borough of Southwark, Former Vice Chairman Dulwich Hamlet Football Club, Former Vice-Chairman Lynn Athletic Boxing Club, Former Owner Henry Cooper Boxing Gym
and now a Businessman and community activist.
should read NOW MUCH BETTER, ON THE PROGRAMME ISSUE.
It is not surprising Outside has been suspended from the Linnets Forum as in one of the posts he admits:
“I have only ever seen them play once in my life.
I am actually a fan of a proper football team and just like the idea of watching people on here get wound up and throwing their toys out of the pram
So at least an explanation for my banning. Its because I support a proper team and not the Linnets.
Good to know that this is a valid reason rather than posting abusive or defamatory comments.
If Mr Holland sponsors the fan owned website why does the website claim to be the official website of the Blue and Gold Supporters Trust. And do the articles of association of the Trust allow it to sponsor fans personal websites.
I would ask these questions on the forum but I am unable to because I have only seen KL play once.
PS Mr Holland has forgotten to include that he was a finalist in the Cuprinol shed of the year contest 2011. Got nowhere with that either.
JustasNeutral makes the mistake that many people make when reading the King’s Lynn forum that it a blue and gold trust forum. It isn’t, it is a fans forum. Many people, myself included, regularly post on this forum, but are not members of the blue and gold trust.
The one promise that people keep coming back to is regular fan’s meetings with the Chapmans. We were promised monthly meetings, of which we have had two. It is all very well implying how the club is run is none of our business, but being a supporter of a club which has already gone bust once makes you more vigilant.
When the lease for the ground was awarded to the Chapmans one of the provisions was that there had to be fan involvement. This is the one thing that most Lynn supporters have a problem with. Does this constitute a lie by the Chapmans?
As for encouraging the fans to drink elsewhere, it was the landlord of a local pub who advertises on the blue and gold website, and who made the offer of cheap drinks to blue and gold trust members. The football club was asked if they were willing to match this offer, but they declined.
For the record I am pleased with many aspects of the club since the Chapmans took over. They have refurbished the ground which now looks great. They have invested in the team, and put their money where their mouth is in terms of playing budget. All we ask is that they listen when we have a few (often minor) gripes. Their reaction to these really does seem out of proportion.
Stuart, perhaps many people think its the Trust website because of the fact that theres a big Trust logo in the top right hand corner andunderneath that it says ‘Welcome to the Trust’s official website’.
Now if the Chapmans were trying to make similar claims they would be getting accused of lying on the same website, irrespective of who it belongs to.
I understand that Outsider was banned for making unsubstantiated comments that could be viewed as questioning the ethics of the websites administrators. From his post today,you can now see why he was banned. At one time, he even cut and paste an article from another clubs website onto the linnets website, which was being critical of Chapmans over a Cheque that was supposedly not honoured. By cutting and pasting this article, he again attempted to show the Trust in a bad light.Chances are that far being posted by a Trust member, being on another site, it was probably not even a Lynn fan. Football does not need this type of person following it.
With regards to the Supporters Trust encouraging fans to drink elsewhere, again this is not true. There was a commercial decision made by a local pub (NOT THE TRUST) to attract fans to their licensed premises, which unfortuanely for the Chapmans, has been a terrific success. By the way, this licenced premises also has Live Sky, which The Chapmans choose not to do.I’m sure that must be a major draw for these people as well, but of course, the Likes of Outsider tend to forget these other points. I understand that Chapmans were approached by fans to see if a similar commercial decision could be made at The Walks for the fans benefit, but nothing came of it. A common theme, which Outsider would know if he did bother to get more involved with the club rather than just trying to cause trouble. What a very, very sad individual he must be. To admit to enjoy watching people get wound up. Really should get to the Doctors and get that presciption increased.
With regards to people fund raising for other clubs. Thats nothing new and if he was a real football fans, he would know that many fans help raise funds for other clubs in their hour of need, as Fenman attempted to for Rye FC. Again, certain people have criticised the Trust for this, including shall I say “a person in an official capacity that really should know better”. It had nothing to do with The Trust. All they did was advertise the event. At the moment, they are also advertsing a charitry walk for MND. I suppose Outsider will believe that this is an anti club move as well!
Hey, how about banning Outsider on here as well.
He would not know the truth if it jumped up and bit him in the arriss!
Whats your view on 200%’s article?
I actually made the point that it is the Trust’s responsiblity to ensure that posts are appropriate, which they do not. It is their responsibility to police the forum to remove posts that are defamatory…they do not!
I quote from outsider: ‘the moderators reserve the right to remove any messages considered to be abusive or defamatory.’
THEY DO NOT! (Unless it is aimed at the trust or a Trust member)
Also, to KH, I think you’ll find SOME of the Trust board post more than regularly on the forum, and aren’t averse to arguing over the forum with those they do not agree with. Now, what was the comment about lies on there…..? Pot, kettle, black!
Outsider, it really isn’t that difficult. From memory the website was offered to the Trust around the time the last club was wound up, the Trust in its aims and objectives includes promoting the senoir football within King’s Lynn ie the club, which the website (which has a long standing reputation in non-league circles) does very well. The forum is just one part of the site and does exactly what it says on the tin, its a forum for fans – it is not the mouthpiece for the Trust and I am not sure if all the moderators are even Trust members, certainly many of the posters are not, including myself and as for criticism of the Trust being removed I think you need to go and check the old postings, I have been very critical of certain aspects of how the Trust has been run and never had a post removed so I guess it is both what you say and how you say it.
Finally as for the lying comments, it just shows the frustration in certain quarters, more with the Council than the Chapmans, that a successful bid document has not been followed up by the people who awarded the lease
Stuart. With respect thats just your opinion. The wesite admins have to make a decision on whats left on and whats taken off, just as other admins do on any forum, this one included. Also, you would have no idea whats taken off. When its taken off, you obviously can’t see it. You can only see what remains which may give you the wrong impression. Ask any forum admins (I run a gaming forum) and they will tell you that they are accused of exactly what you are accusing the Linnets admins of. Its a common gripe, usually incorrect, and of course by its very nature, can’t be verified by anyone other that the admins.
Please don’t lose sight of what the article is really about, and that its an independent view. i.e. Chapmans trying to get something thats does not belong to them. Myself? I’m putting extra locks on my doors now.
Outsider, please try and keep the argument to the topic and not try and belittle people with comments regarding garden structures.
As on the forum, when the argument is going against you, you try some back handed sarcasm that really does show you in unfavourable light. My contact details are on the forum and I would welcome spending time with you having a beer and discussing these issues. In the shed, of course!
Re the comment regarding Trust officials making statements on the Forum, If that is the case then I take it back. My understanding is that individuals can make posts, but they will be their own personal views and not that of the Trust, who I have found act professionally at all times.
The whole point though, is about the Current leaseholders of the Walks stadium not being in total control of what is said. It is that, and that alone they do not like and hence the recent developments.
As people are talking about the Lynn forum I’ll add my 2 pennies – they have been posts left on the forum that have almost lost sponsorship which in turn would have meant a cut in the budget. This was left on despite being lies.
Yet any post that is against the Trust or certain forum posters is deleted (have had some deleted myself and it wasn’t even controversial!)
And if anyone does try & post positive comments they are soon shot down as being a member of the Chapman family or being friends of the Chapman family.
fao I have seen them
You said above in relation to me that @At one time, he even cut and paste an article from another clubs website onto the linnets website, which was being critical of Chapmans over a Cheque that was supposedly not honoured.’
Whilst I may be banned form posting, all my posts are still there archived. If you can find the post that you are referring to then you are a better man than me. Perhaps you could draw my attenetion to it on the private fan owned, sponsored by Blue and Gold Trust, football forum. if you can’t I’ll just assume that, like me, you couldn’t find it.
And another point – some have complained that the Chapman family have used tax payers money to improve the ground and update the bar to make profit.
What they fail to mention is that as the landlords the council had a pot of money put aside to updated the ground…and whoever won the least would have been allowed to use it. Whether that was the Trust, the Chapmans or AN Other.
Libellous statements are not limited to the King’s Lynn forum or Lynn fans.
Recently Lynn manager Gary Setchell described allegations by St Neots players regarding racist comments made by Lynn players as
“ A deliberate attempt by St Neots Town FC to tarnish the reputation of Kings Lynn Town FC”
When the St Neots chairman Mike Kearns asked him to retract the comment the response from the Lynn Official Facebook page was that they found the request laughable.
Nice people in King’s Lynn.
Well, we missed out on a cup final at Wembley this year, but we made it to “Two Hundred Percent”!
From my distant vantage point in New Mexico, the facts are simple:
The Trust was formed to protect our town’s long heritage of non-league football (yes, I am a member). Has it made some mistakes in their scant two years of existence as a volunteer-run organization? Sure. But it has moved on from being the unsuccessful bidder for the lease for The Walks. Their goals are clearly stated, and are no different from other football supporter trusts around the country.
Does the forum that is one part of its website contain pointed comments about anything we don’t like – opposing teams, referees, the quality of the half time tea and burgers? Of course it does. And, like fans of teams the world over, we’re also not shy to criticize the owners when we think it justified. But we also celebrate when the team wins or the manager(s) sign(s) a good prospect.
The owners of the club made various promises to the Council when they were bidding for the lease to The Walks Stadium as well as commitments to the fans that have supported the team over many years through thick-and-thin. They have barely kept a single one of them, while publicly stating that their intention is to run the club for their own personal profit.
At the same time, they simply don’t understand the culture of non-league football or the passion that its fans have for their home town team. This is their biggest “crime” – and it is costing them money.
Sooner or later, they will walk away – and blame it on the supporters. In the aftermath, if the council is willing, a smaller club owned by the supporters with a sustainable budget will be formed. It will play at a lower level, but nothing else will change. The referees will still be w*#@%&s, the meat in the burgers will still of questionable origin, and the decisions of the owners will still be criticized on a weekly basis. That’s football in Lynn. That’s football everywhere.
i am very disappointed to see Lynn fans airing their dirty laundry on here, this is not a forum, but a message board to discuss the above article. You’re just embarassing yourselves in public now.
anyway, re: the article….
Looks like a nerve has been well and truly hit.
I will just iron out a few points from the first comment.
The Forum on the website is a register only, open forum that contains viewpoints from all supporters.To broadly state it contains views of “the Trust this and the Trust that” is simply inaccurate. It contains a disclaimer and is also moderated as I well know.
I wondered how long it would be before the “other Pub” was mentioned again. The pub concerned is my local and they offered the Trust a business deal. This contained a banner advert and a beer discount deal for members. The Trust directors publicised this after the deal was accepted. They have at no time said directly to anyone not to drink at the club. Where people choose to have a beer is entirely up to them. More inaccuracy.
The nature of a Supporters Trust is to ask questions of all types, regarding the club. Last time no questions were asked, the club went bust. Anyone questioning of the club by anyone is frowned upon by the new owners, the Trust become a sitting target at whom mud is easily slung. A quick check of the Trust committee minutes (they are all online) shows that the Trust have continually kept polite dialogue open whilst receiving practically nothing back.
The Questioning of the fact that a grant from the local council of £150,000 ( tax payers money) for the football club, was paid to Norfolk Arena (the Speedway business) and not to the football club last summer (2010) and how it is going to show in the accounts (will it become a directors loan), I would guess would not sit comfortably.
Thanks to twohundredpercent for an interesting article.
Paul, can we take it from your comments that you were involved in sponsorship last season ? You sound a little DISTRESSED…..
I don’t know anything about the situation at Kings Lynn but there seem to be an awful lot of anti – trust comments being posted on this site recently. Almost as if they were being co-ordinated.
Steve – the only reason I am commenting on this site is because I have been banned from commenting on the ‘fan owned, Trust sponsored’ site.
As far as I can see there are two other posters who have made comments critical of the website or Trust on here ie Paul and Just as neutral. Perhaps they are banned as well, but to suggest that comments made by 3 people are being co-ordinated is indicative of the paranoia displayed for the ;last year by the mutual admiration society on the ‘fan owned, Trust sponsored’ website.
As for Rob’s question about the grant paid to the Norfolk Arena that is typical of the insinuations that are being targetted at the Chapmans on the ‘fan owned, Trust sponsored’ website. I have no idea what the £150000 payment is for and I wonder if Rob does. I understand that the Chapmans have some sort of educational facility at the Arena which presumably they are paid for. Perhaps it is payment for that facility. I dont now, but it seesm to be sailing very close to the wind to be making the insinuating comments that are being made, which are now being extended to involve not just the Chapmans but Council officers as well.
You are quite right regarding your point about the trust’s responsibility to edit or omit posts. I have no idea how many posts are omitted or edited. Maybe you have some knowledge of this? My reference to you mistaking the forum for trust members and not all fans was you saying ” It’s high time the trust and many of it’s posters grew up”.
There is no way of knowing from looking at the forum who is a trust member and who isn’t.
Well luckily for you Stuart, you can look at the forum. I apparently am now banned even from reading posts. How paranoid is that. Apparently I am provocative. You couldnt make it up. Think I might join the Trust, if they are that concerned about criticism.
Some websites are able to block IP addresses if requested. Your IP is set in your router when you log onto the internet and doesn’t change unless you disconnect it from the internet.
IF the forum is clever enough to do this, this may help:
Before trying any other methods to change your IP address, try turning off (or unplugging the power of) your Cable/DSL modem for five minutes. In many cases this will change your IP address. However, if that does not change your IP address, repeat the process for 8 hours (overnight works well) instead of 5 minutes. Hopefully this will result in an IP change.
Stuart, if I read JustAsNeutral’s response correctly, I think he is making the point that the Trust have a responsibility over what is and isn’t left on the forum. Surely one poster talking about, and I paraphrase as it was two different posts “the ticket office is like a glory hole and JC will have to go up on me cos he is shorter” or words to that effect……
I’d be interested to know what relevance that has on a FOOTBALL FANS forum, and why it was left on there. Also, unfounded accustations about gate figures and conning other clubs. Any other medium and this would be illegal! I’ve read the forum MANY times but never posted, and that is the exact reason why. An outsider (by nature not by nickname on here) associates “the linnets” with the football club, and happening upon the dross that is churned out and left to fester on the forum, would easily be put off or given the wrong impression about the club. I don’t blame the club one tiny bit for their stance.
….oh, and there is no age limit to read the forum, so the Trust have a moral obligation too!
I agree with the author of the article that Mr Chapman or the company running the club Kings Lynn Town FC can have no prior claim to the mark “The Linnets” ahead of the trust now using it as a domain name. If anyone has been libelled then action can be taken against the author of the libel and the publisher of it. Vulgar abuse is not necessarily going to amount to a libel. The whole thing seems most unseemly.
A really interesting article and equally interesting collection of comments. I miss the glory days of KLFC 15 or so years ago! Things really have got messy, but I feel that the Chapmans will turn things around.