Home   Sport   Article

Subscribe Now

Eye-watering cost of running King's Lynn Town revealed as owner Stephen Cleeve reveals that club may not see out the season

Stephen Cleeve has revealed that it costs £1million a year just to keep King's Lynn Town afloat, as fears for the Linnets' long-term future grow.

And the owner of the National League North club has revealed that unless they can find another £300,000 they are in grave danger of not seeing out the current season.

Cleeve, who has already put a huge amount of investment into the club, said: "We need £300,000 to go to the end of the season and roughly that equates to £60,000 or £70,000 a month to keep the show on the road.

King's Lynn Town chairman Stephen Cleeve chats to Norwich City manager David Wagner during a pre-season friendly at The Walks.
King's Lynn Town chairman Stephen Cleeve chats to Norwich City manager David Wagner during a pre-season friendly at The Walks.

"I'm very worried and I can't give a guarantee that we'll see out the season. I think we'll be able to pay the wages in December but whether we can in January, I don't know.

"I think we've spent more than a million pounds each season in the last two seasons, so it may be as much as £1.3million last season. I can't quite remember the figures, but I think that's what it was at one point.

"The season we were in the National League, we spent more than a million on player wages alone and that was without going anywhere, paying an electric bill, a training bill or any other bills for that matter.

"Once all the other costs had been paid it probably amounted to the same amount again. That's what it costs to run the football club, it's not a cheap business."

The Linnets' owner first revealed the club's financial plight after the midweek home game against Banbury United, where his financial breakdown went viral after appearing on social media platform X (formerly Twitter).

In his programme notes before the Warrington game today, Cleeve explained that there was a significant shortfall in incomings compared to outgoings before any wages had even been paid.

"The numbers showed that once we had paid the expenses for the match against Banbury and for our coach and hotel trip to Southport, we were already in a loss-making situation before a single pay-check was paid," he wrote.

"If we then deduct the actual expenses due that day which ranged from players' hotels to petrol to lock-changing invoices we finish about £3,000 in the hole.

"Putting it another way I must find £3,000 plus the wages for the Banbury game and the wages for the next away game."

In 2009 - the year the previous club went out of existence - it was almost unthinkable that a football club could go under, but 14 years on it is becoming the norm as clubs fall by the wayside every month.

Only earlier this week Northern League outfit North Shields admitted that its financial situation had become "impossible" and risked going out of business completely if action was not taken while Nuneaton Borough - regular opponents of Lynn in their previous guise - were on the brink of collapse after new investors after DA Capital "relinquished ownership" of the Warwickshire side.

Cleeve, who bought the club from previous owner Buster Chapman back in the summer of 2016, says it takes a lot more than people think just to run the club.

And Lynn's owner hit back at suggestions that the club should have reverted back to a part-time model in the summer.

"The argument with that is the cost of hiring pitches because you have to remember if you go part-time you have to hire in the evenings," he said.

"Pitches in the evenings are a lot more expensive than pitches in the mornings so the actual cost for entire facilities is almost identical, if not identical in my opinion.

"So then it comes down to wages. With us being full-time it enables us to develop players better and that helps attract the younger players who are the valuable ones.

"Let's be honest, it helps attract them to the club because they know that they can play and develop. The only argument really is the more experienced players, can we afford the more experienced players to be full-time rather than part-time?

"You've only got to look at Step Three and Four, and they're all part-time with some players on £700 or £800 a week, so I don't believe it's the big panacea everyone says it is.

"People then remark about the house being rented for players to stay in. If we didn't we'd have to be very, very local in what we attract, which would also mean our scope of pulling in players like Cameron Hargreaves and George Morrison would be difficult.

"These players wouldn't be here otherwise and I don't think we'd get them at much cheaper rates if we were part-time."

Cleeve, whose own financial situation suffered a major blow a few months back when one of his large investments was delisted from the stock market, has travelled to all parts of the globe in a bid to find fresh investment for the club.

"This perfect storm has left the club vulnerable," he continued in his programme notes.

"And I have, for months, been trying to find options. I flew to America, went to a conference in Washington DC and visited seven cities in 12 days.

"Whilst out there I believe I have put together a plan to generate significant summer revenue which will fix most of next year's deficit.

"Our main problem is to get through to the summer. I met with 33 investors in the USA and most had never heard of King's Lynn. The negativity online in certain quarters did the club no favours and took some explaining but equally attendances did not help fight our cause. We were too small a club for the investors who wanted to write cheques for at least £50million."

Cleeve still has possibilities with a couple of interested investors outside of the UK but time is slowly running out.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More