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King's Lynn's playing budget in the National League likely to be hit for next season, says chairman




Stephen Cleeve says being forced to see out the remainder of the National League season will have a detrimental effect on the club's budget for next season.

The King's Lynn Town owner is being forced to take out a loan with Sport England and part company with some of his own personal assets to keep the club afloat with no fans – and very little income – coming through the turnstiles.

Cleeve met with manager Ian Culverhouse and director of football Robbie Back to discuss plans for next season on Thursday.

Manager Ian Culverhouse, director of football Robbie Back and chairman Stephen Cleeve. Picture: Tim Smith. (44737620)
Manager Ian Culverhouse, director of football Robbie Back and chairman Stephen Cleeve. Picture: Tim Smith. (44737620)

Talking on 606, Five Live's original football phone-in show, on Saturday night, Cleeve said: "I had a meeting with manager Ian Culverhouse last week to discuss next season.

"We didn't touch on the budget, we just spoke about the players he wanted. The budget is at the back of my mind and what is happening will change things.

"At the moment the loans are still in the system and there's a lot of paperwork involved. Until I know how much we're able to borrow off Sport England, I won't know what our budget will be for next year.

"But it will certainly have a detrimental effect on us, there's no question about that."

The Linnets are already operating with a threadbare squad with the majority of their first-team playing staff being placed on furlough.

A handful of players – including former Norwich City striker Simeon Jackson – have already come to the club’s rescue during troubled times by playing for next-to-nothing, but Lynn's chairman is still feeling the financial bite because of the decision to carry on playing.

"On a personal level, I've had to sell assets which I didn't want to sell, nothing to do with the football club," admitted Cleeve.

"I saw a land rover, which I'd had for many years disappear out of my garage today (Saturday) because I had to get some money in to pay the bills and it's not fair to put us in this position."

Meanwhile Cleeve says that he has every sympathy with Dover Athletic after being punished for failing to meet their fixture obligations this season.

The Walks stadium home of King's Lynn Town Football Club (42511907)
The Walks stadium home of King's Lynn Town Football Club (42511907)

Dover have said they are unable to complete the season due to a lack of finances.

An independent panel has ruled that the Whites have been guilty of four breaches of Rule 8.39 for failing to play matches between February 16 and February 27.

The Whites stopped playing at the end of January and their punishment is a 12-point deduction for the 2021/22 playing season and fine of £40,000.

The results from the 15 games they had played have been expunged, which includes Lynn's 2-0 win over them at The Walks last November.

The club have avoided relegation but will start with a minus points total next season, which kicks off in August.

Cleeve said: "I'm very much in the minority. Most other chairman and other club officials I speak to all think they should be punished with relegation.

"I'm completely of the opposite view. Dover started the season with the premise we were all promised grants and when that changed they decided to stop playing.

"From their perspective and the same applies to us too, they are going to end up with a huge debt for many years just for completing the season.

"I don't think Dover should have been punished, but from the league's point of view if they didn't punish them then Dover will be in a far stronger financial situation for not playing but equally I don't think the season should have started."

Lynn have been found guilty by an Independent panel of a breach of The National League’s Covid-19 protocols in relation to defender Aaron Jones back in January.

A statement from the National League read: "Season 2020/21 had started under restrictions imposed to help control the spread of Covid-19 virus.

"In order to ensure the season could continue safely, the National League had developed a number of protocols with club process flow charts which were to be followed by clubs.

"The Panel imposed a 12-month suspended fine of £2,000 on King’s Lynn Town for an unintentional error, considered to be in the best efforts to ensure a fixture was played.

"The club were warned for their future conduct in relation to Covid-19 protocols, with the suspended fine only to be issued if the Club is found guilty of a further breach of Covid-19 protocols.

*There is a right of appeal to the Football Association."



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