King's Lynn Town v Notts County: Chalk and cheese

Ian Culverhouse rallies the troops. Picture: Ian Burt

Ian Culverhouse needs to rally the King's Lynn Town troops again for the visit of Notts County - Credit: Ian Burt

Head of sport Chris Lakey looks at King’s Lynn Town’s home game against Notts County … a meeting of opposites if ever there was one 

King’s Lynn Town are back at The Walks on Tuesday night – but could it be the last time they are in action this season? 

The National League is moving at a glacial pace towards a decision on its future – whether to carry on or whether to call it a day in the face of dwindling finances for many, and a lack of financial support. 

Notts County are the visitors in what amounts to a chalk and cheese battle between the have nots that are Lynn and a club that can afford to continue the season even while those around them fall by the wayside. If too many fall, of course, it will end up a puerile exercise for County so there is a mounting sense that money is currently being thrown down the footballing drain while a decision is awaited. 

Clubs have been asked to decide what to do next – answers on a postcard to be in by February 28 – but there has been a near deathly hush from the corridors of power at the National League.  

Clubs have popped up every day or so to make their positions clear. The further down the National League ladder you go – into the regional feeders - the more likely chairman are to say ‘enough is enough’, that they cannot afford to go on and that they won’t be fulfilling their next fixture. This has led to reminders from the National League that if any club “without just cause” pulls out of a game, they will be punished. Whether financial ruin or a global pandemic is “just cause” or not could not be more obvious. 

Lynn's chairman Stephen Cleeve. Picture: Ian Burt

King's Lynn Town owner Stephen Cleeve - Credit: Ian Burt

Linnets owner Stephen Cleeve has done his bit and voted to end the season – the club can’t afford to take out a loan, and the only way to continue would be by way of a grant. Meanwhile, like many others, he is haemorrhaging cash, a process which continues tonight. 

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Of the National League clubs to have shown their hand so far it would appears that Notts County, Chesterfield, Hartlepool and Sutton want to carry on, while Lynn and Dover Athletic want it to end. 

Wrexham want to carry on, but because they are not eligible for government funding and club’s location, they have abstained 

Dover boss Jim Parmenter has put his staff on furlough which means Lynn’s trip on Saturday is unlikely to go ahead, but he spoke for many when he said: “Small clubs like Dover just can't afford to take large loans. We're talking several hundred thousand pounds to get through the season and that just isn't possible for us and it's been going on now since January with still no money forthcoming. 

"I've financed the club for six weeks personally and that's got to stop and, in a nutshell, we've run out of money." 

It’s the conundrum the National League finds itself in, but without the ones who can’t afford it, the ‘haves’ can’t continue anyway: and why would Lynn want to bankrupt themselves just to play out someone else‘s fantasy football game? 

All of which leaves Lynn, manager Ian Culverhouse and the players in a difficult position. What Cleeve pays them is part of their budgeted income, not a bonus of any sort... take it away and it leaves the same sort of impact anyone would feel at the loss of a few hundred quid every week. They don’t want to lose that, plus they are footballers – they want to play football. But if the incentives are taken away, is there any point? They won’t get promoted and with the feeder leagues looking increasingly likely to call it a day, they won’t go down. 

So what’s the point? 

Notts County manager Neal Ardley appears dejected after the final whistle during the Vanarama Nation

Notts County manager Neal Ardley - Credit: PA

Come February 28 – maybe before if someone gets themselves into gear – we will know. But as each game goes by, there is a sense that it will be the last. 

For the record, Lynn are in the relegation zone while Tuesday's visitors are fifth in the table, and as one of the so-called big clubs, will be hoping to be in the EFL next season. None of which may matter.