Kings Lynn Football Club of the Unibond League Premier Division were wound up in court this morning over an unpaid tax bill of £65,000. This shouldn’t come as a major surprise. After all, we are talking about a club whose directors managed to get demoted from the Blue Square North after they failed to carry out basic improvements to their stadium that they already knew that they needed to make. Even relegation wasn’t the end of their world. They have made a decent start to life in the Unibond League, scoring forty-nine goals in eighteen league matches (including an 11-0 win against the hapless Durham City) and sit in fourth place in the table with two games in hand on two of the three clubs above them.
The collapse of the club has, however, been very sudden indeed. Former finance director David Handley had been due to bail the club out, but he withdrew earlier this week, stating that he wouldn’t get involved in the club because he didn’t wish to be made a scapegoat for what has gone wrong at The Walks over the last couple of years and because he didn’t want to get involved until the current directors of the club resigned. Considering the farce over the state of their ground earlier this year and this new crisis, it’s hardly surprising.
They had already had a six week extension from the court to settle the bill and what has been notable about the club’s reaction to this was that there wasn’t one, really. Even this evening, a terse message on the club’s official site said only that, “King’s Lynn Football Club have this morning been officially wound up in the High Court. The club has an option of a seven day appeal”. The Unibond League has given them permission to play their home league match against Guiseley this weekend, an eminently sensible decision that would give them a fighting chance of raising some of the money to pay off the debt.
However, at the time of writing the club hasn’t even confirmed that it will be appealing the winding up order, which woud give them an extra seven days to try and raise the money. A club with an average home crowd that comes close to 1,000 may have a fighting chance of raising enough money to be able to make an offer to the court. As things stand, though, there still aren’t any guarantees that the match will even go ahead. A supporters trust was formed last week and is currently trying to plot a course through the mess and in a development earlier this evening, David Handley (or at least someone pretending to be him) turned up on the club’s supporters forum try and arrange a meeting in the town for tomorrow evening. The most important question of the evening, however, will not be whether they can save the club but whether they should actually bother.
Perhaps surprisingly, the vibe that appears to be emanating from the supporters this evening doesn’t seem to be particularly in favour of keeping the club alive in its current form. A sizeable proportion of the supporters seem to be of the opinion that this club isn’t worth keeping going if it simply means that their aptly-named chairman David Bobbins gets himself dug out of a hole again. The Walks is owned by the local council, so it is likely that a new, supporter-owned club would be able to restart, perhaps a couple of divisions lower in the Ridgeons Eastern Counties League or perhaps lower than this. This may be the only way to guarantee that the mistakes of the past aren’t repeated at Kings Lynn Football Club.
The overwhelming feeling that comes from Kings Lynn Football Club is one of apathy on the part of the board. When their ground needed renovating, the council offered £250,000 for necessary improvements to be made but they weren’t. When the club was given six weeks to pay the money, the club didn’t start arranging fund-raising to try and stay alive. The rumour now doing the rounds is that they haven’t even bothered filling out the paperwork to buy themselves a final seven days to try and raise the money yet. Kings Lynn supporters are best reminded that they, rather than the people running this particular car crash, are the club and that they will have a football club somewhere. A club of their size isn’t just going to disappear overnight unless the supporters give up the ghost and walk away from it.