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When the axe fell upon Kings Lynn Football Club it was no great surprise, considering what has been going on at the club, not only over the last couple of weeks, but over the last year or two. The biggest warning sign came with the demotion of the club from the Blue Square North. Their ground, The Walks, is a big, fine old stadium but it required work after they were promoted into their new league. It was even rumoured that the council had offered to pay towards the cost of the repairs. The work, however, wasn’t done and the club was demoted into the Unibond League at the end of last season.
Whether this was mere incompetence or a symptom of something more malign is something that we will probably never know. What we know for sure is that is that the financial situation at the club was deteriorating rapidly, and that they continued to spend. The tax bill was up to £77,000 by the time that HMRC issued a winding up order against them and they had debts that were said to be in the region of a further £150,000, but money was still being frittered away on players. The wage bill was said to be £4,000 per week – two divisions below the Blue Square Premier.
At the first hearing at the court two weeks ago, all was adjourned for seven days to try and give the club a little breathing space, but this was a futile attempt at extending the life of a patient that was already clearly in the death throes. The hearing was adjourned for a second time, and there was talk of a last minute takeover bid which came to nothing. The club’s majority shareholder Michael Chinn gave up the ghost at the start of the week and today the club died – wound up. It is now to be assumed that the club’s record will be expunged, and one hundred and thirty years of Kings Lynn Football Club came to an end.
Out of darkness comes light, though. This is probably not the best time to be considering the past. Now is the time to take a moment and consider what can be salvaged from this particular train wreck. The most important thing to remember is that The Walks is a council-owned facility, and it is to be hoped that a new club in the town will be recognised by the council as an asset to the community. It can be, and the way forward for football in Kings Lynn is clearly now a supporters trust run club. Rather than being a burden, a new club should build community outreach into its very consitution and building stronger bonds in a town in which support for the club is clear and obvious.
Kings Lynn is a town that we already know is plenty capable of supporting a club with average crowds. There are some that have expressed concern over whether the interest will still be the same with a new club in the Ridgeons League (where they would be likely to have to restart next season), but these claims seem overstated. Why not sell this as an opportunity to cast themselves free and create the sort of club that they have always wanted to be a part of? There are no barriers to the progress of the club under supporters trust ownership that aren’t in the minds of the very people that are in a position to mould this future. The temptation may be strong, if the opportunity comes up, to give up control of their own destiny to a “consortium of local businessmen” (or whoever). These people, after all, have a tendency to promise the earth.
However, the warning signs are all over the place. When the time comes to make a decision over the future of the new club, Kings Lynn supporters would be best advised to consider Weymouth, Lewes, Chester City, Boston United and a whole host of other clubs on top what happened to their own club. There are people in the world that have all the patter and will be able to sell them anything. Nothing, however, is guaranteed. At the dawning of a new club, the decisions that the supporters of the new Kings Lynn club take need to ensure one thing above everything else – that their new club exists and that it continues to exist.
There is, however, nothing to stop a prudently run Kings Lynn club progressing back to the level from which they fell. It will require time and effort from quite a few people, but supporters might even find that, after a couple of years of indignity and the death of their club, they enjoy the journey back to where they have come from. It is certainly a realistic target.
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.
A very sad demise. One of the first clubs I remember seeing when I was nipper in the 50’s playing against Cambridge United in the Eastern Counties League.
A great pity for all concerned in, and for, the club.
I heard Carl Heggs interview on the Non-League Show on Monday night and it was clear that the coffin nails had already been put in place by then.
Struck me that any team rising from the ashes of KLFC should maybe consider him as the new clubs manager, that is, if he was willing to take on that roll.
In all honesty you certainly wouldn’t blame him if he had had enough though and, from what I heard, he seemed to have been pretty poorly treated over the last few weeks.
I Wish good luck to all those willing to give Kings Lynn back their team.
Did you see this? So, a private individual isn’t welcome to take on the club, even one with a record of reinvigorating a local sport team and talking eminent sense about not spending money you don’t have, but complex webs of holding companies with unknown owners are just fine? Hooray for The FA! All very fit and proper sir!
[…] A sad day in England, as Kings Lynn Football Club are no more. […]
@Tim – I didn’t read that as the FA rejecting a private individual, more a rejection of his intention to do away with the club’s current type of incorporation (presumably a ltd company), and replacing it with himself – i.e. no incorporation, operating as a sole trader.
Up to a point, but….did Chapman know what the rules were? Did he take the time and trouble to find out? Has this crisis not been going on long enough for him to have done so? Or did the possibility of taking over occur to him on a whim, and if so, is that really evidence of a properly-thought-through proposal?
I wonder if a little self-publicity for Mr Chapman and his other team may have been the spur behind his move to apply for ownership of KLFC. Any businessman would surely have been aware of the pitfall already in place from the governing body prohibiting him from ownership of the club unless he was prepared to accommodate the FA’s stipulations which, after all, are a matter of record for any interested party.
I hope I am not doing him an injustice and apologise in advance if I am but he did get his name onto the BBC website and has done his benevolent profile no harm at all by this somewhat half-baked offer (How much would that normally cost?).
It would worry me if someone in potential charge of my football club wasn’t aware of what was required to be in place by the governing bodies concerned before he considered making an offer.
Just a thought!
Not good. there are plenty of farmers and business men in Lynn that could have taken it over (yes, Mr williamson! Eileen Shaw would be cursing you now!). They’ve made their money from people in Lynn and should have stepped in. £250k ? Thats nothing to them that live on Millionaires row.
Nonetheless, it has come to pass and I agree that the council & the community have a golden opportunity here, if they pass it up, they are more foolish than I thought.
I will miss KLFC. Many happy memories of going to see them.
Complete incompetence and selfish greed it would appear. Come on Mr Heggs, get the life back into the town. Good luck.
I’m so sorry to hear of the demise of the “Linnets”.
My father played for them in the late 1930’s prior to the war as a centre back. He would turn in his grave to hear this very sad news. Lets hope they can reform. I visited the stadium in the Spring and was shocked at the state of the ground. It looked very rundown, no doubt through lack of investment. I hope a generous benefactor can be found.