The liquidation of the former King’s Lynn Football Club in 2009 left 80 creditors £360,000 out of pocket amid warnings that more grassroots football clubs could struggle in the current climate.

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Chartered accountants and business advisors Larking Gowen, who recently held the final meeting of creditors to conclude the liquidation process, said that due to the low value of the businesses assets it was not possible to make any payments.

Larking Gowen partner David Whitehead, who oversaw the insolvency process, warned that without a good fan base or wealthy benefactor a similar situation would be seen at more and more football clubs.

The fate of the club is on complete contrast to life at the higher echelons of football, with the Premier League concluding a new three-year £3bn TV rights deal with BSkyB and BT to run from 2013.

A winding-up order was filed for King’s Lynn Football Club (1994) Ltd at the High Court in December 2009 over an unpaid £67,000 tax bill owed to HMRC.

The club’s board of directors, headed by chairman Ken Bobbins and majority shareholder Michael Chinn, were unable to secure sufficient funds to meet the tax bill and also provide assurances to a number of creditors.

Larking Gowen said it had recently concluded the liquidation of King’s Lynn Football Club (1994) Limited but “because of the low value of assets it was not possible to make any payments to creditors”.

The town was not left without a club however and Larking Gowen was able to agree a deal with the local council allowing a new company and football team to be established using the facilities at The Walks stadium.

In January 2010 a new lease on the council-owned stadium was awarded to local businessman and King’s Lynn speedway boss Keith ‘Buster’ Chapman.

Mr Chapman launched King’s Lynn Town Football Club in 2010 and has invested hundreds of thousands of pounds into the venture at The Walks. As part of the new business venture Mr Chapman refurbished the stadium and it is now a venue used for weddings, conferences and there is also a café on the site.

The Chapmans successfully applied to the United Counties League and the new re-launched Linnets began life in the 2010/11 season. After two seasons at step five in the non-league pyramid, King’s Lynn have now moved up a level to join the Evo-Stick (Northern Premier) League.

Mr Whitehead said: “It is an unfortunate fact of life that football clubs, be they in the Premier League or like King’s Lynn, are finding it increasingly difficult to make money and stay in business.

“Unless football clubs have a good fan base enabling them to be run profitably, or indeed a wealthy benefactor who is prepared to pour money in come what may, then I am afraid this sad outcome is something we will be seeing more and more of,” he added.

King’s Lynn’s ground, The Walks, was a council-owned stadium which was leased to the football club for a nominal rent. West Norfolk Council officials pledged their support at the time to try and save the football club, but ruled out using public money to help the Linnets survive.

annabelle.dickson@archant.co.uk

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