Chapman predicts a Linnets success story

Paddy DavittKing's Lynn Stars' co-promoter Jonathan Chapman insists his family's bid to launch a new football club in the town will be a Norfolk success story.West Norfolk council chiefs are today scheduled to hear final presentations from speedway boss Buster Chapman and a rival proposal from the supporter-led Blue and Gold Trust.Paddy Davitt

King's Lynn Stars' co-promoter Jonathan Chapman insists his family's bid to launch a new football club in the town will be a Norfolk success story.

West Norfolk council chiefs are today scheduled to hear final presentations from speedway boss Buster Chapman and a rival proposal from the supporter-led Blue and Gold Trust. The Chapman camp has targeted Conference National football in eight years - a goal they believe is achievable with homegrown talent at its core.

"The strength of our bid comes from the fact we have not set ourselves unrealistic aims or targets," said Jonathan Chapman. "Everything the council have said during this process indicates they want success to be built on strong foundations and that has to mean gradual progression.

"We feel it is possible to run a successful club that can make a small profit - and profit is not a dirty word - but that is also able to sustain itself. No-one surely wants to see a repeat of the situation where it has to be continually bailed out and then eventually you end up back at square one."


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Chapman confirmed recruiting popular former player/boss Carl Heggs had never been an option.

"That is in the past and we want to look forward," he said. "We think this can be an exciting journey and we never for one minute thought about going and getting Carl Heggs. Why do we want a Leicester-based manager with Leicester-based players? Let's give local players a chance to show what they can do.

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"From our point of view the community structure has produced players who never really got an opportunity and moved on elsewhere. Obviously in speedway we recruit riders from not just this country but abroad and that is the nature of the sport. If we had to do the same further down the line with the football club we wouldn't shy away from that fact but we want to base this very much in the community."

Linnets' ex-finance director David Handley pulled out of the race earlier this week to win the lease on the council-owned Walks stadium amid fears he would fail the council's financial assessment.

"Raising expectations by bandying around figures like �1m and promising Coca-Cola League football is not the way to go," said Chapman. "I'm sure hearing those sort of comments convinced a section of supporters, but we would appeal to the hardcore fans who can perhaps understand where we are coming from and see that a different way is possible.

"Our wage bill will be sustainable and we believe it is possible to grow crowds as we progress and attract new fans. We've looked at it very closely and feel we could budget for home crowds of 1,500 if we reached level five. You look at the attendances the previous club was attracting this season and I think that is a natural progression if we can get success on the pitch. And we will."

West Norfolk cabinet met yesterday to discuss both proposals from each bidder. The EDP understands amongst the selection criteria sent to each prospective group was an 'absolute requirement' the new club is involved in the community football scheme.

Chapman last week unveiled Kevin Boon as his proposed director of football and Lynn's former title-winning boss was a key figure in the scheme's launch during his previous tenure at The Walks. The council selection criteria also stated, 'a track record of successfully running a similar sports-based business would be an added advantage.'

Buster Chapman has turned the Norfolk Arena speedway stadium into one of the country's best with re-development off the track alongside a period of Premier League domination on it.

The council also outlined a sound business plan must demonstrate a clear and realistic vision for the future of the club based on a sustainable model - rather than dependent on high levels of continued subsidy from directors.

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