Stephen Cleeve: So what happens at King's Lynn next season?

King's Lynn Town skipper Michael Clunan's sweet strike was saved by Woking's 'keeper Craig Ross

It was a frustrating night for King's Lynn Town skipper Michael Clunan and his team against Woking in midweek - Credit: Ian Burt

Another ex-league club rolls into town this afternoon - the visitors are Torquay United and a great game lies in store for those who fancy an afternoon in West Norfolk.

We were disappointed not to hold out for a win away at Solihull Moors last Saturday, but with injuries before and during the game I still think that coming away with a credible 2-2 draw was a result that we would have taken before the game.  We lost at the same stadium 5-0 last season so that puts the result into a little context.

Tuesday night’s goalless draw against Woking was not the most entertaining affair and the result was as disappointing as the attendance, which was simply nowhere near enough to sustain any club at this level. The statistics, though, especially the expected goals ratio, showed that we deserved to take all three points so we need to put it behind us and concentrate on the positives. If we can put together a little run then anything can happen.

Luis Fernandez applauds the Lynn faithful - Credit: Ian Burt

Luis Fernandez applauds the Lynn faithful in midweek - Credit: Ian Burt

Clearly questions are being asked about next season and many of these will be tough to answer as, until our future is decided and I have a proper face-to-face meeting with the manager and his staff, I will not have all the definitive answers.

I am asked a lot about budgets and whilst our budget is currently far higher than I would like it to be once accommodation is included, we are in a very difficult position and are playing teams with bundles of cash.

Money is important, but at the start of the season we could have signed three strikers for less money in total than we paid out in the National League North for two strikers; sometimes it is all about how you spend the money. The previous manager, Ian Culverhouse, turned down all three players, a decision that I found challenging, as the reasons given were to my mind nonsensical. Ian felt that the players in question were not good enough and I disagreed. I felt all had huge potential and were certainly good enough, but no one from the management team shared my beliefs.

Subsequently, one of those players signed for a club in the National League, after we turned him down and has since been sold in the January transfer window to a League Two team for a six-figure fee; another plays in our league for another club, but has plenty of league clubs following him and will without doubt be playing league football next season, and the third was Joe Taylor, who came through our academy with KES and came on as a substitute for Peterborough in their draw at Bournemouth on Tuesday night. They were all certainly good enough and with the benefit of hindsight maybe our season could have played out differently.

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I am often asked what is the most frustrating part of being a chairman and the above situation illustrates many of my frustrations quite well. The relationship between the manager and the chairman is vital; you can’t always agree, but you can always listen to each other and I am pleased to say that Tommy Widdrington is someone who works with you and looks out for the club and you cannot ask much more from my perspective.

One of the big debates is should we have gone full-time last season and will we stay full-time next season?

I have yet to speak with Tommy on this issue, but I believe that staying full-time gives us the strongest chance of challenging whatever division we find ourselves in. It does, though, have positives and negatives. On the plus side, younger players want to find clubs that are full-time and can help them improve, but more experienced players may have other jobs and struggle to commit to the full-time model unless large wages can be found. My overall view is that the decision will be the manager’s and he will decide in the best interests of the club.

Another question that keeps popping up is will I be staying around as the club’s custodian? I have never made it a secret that I would welcome more investment and would happily sell a percentage of the club to someone who could help to take the club forward. Indeed, if someone with deeper pockets than myself entered the building then I would certainly not stand in their way. The club is an attractive proposition, it’s debts are long term to the government on low fixed interest rates or interest free loans from myself which will in all probability will never be repaid.

We have made significant improvements to the stadium in recent years, created a fantastic academy with KES, deliver football coaching to schools in West Norfolk, have a long lease on a low rent and the ground has been passed fit to be suitable for the Football League (not every club in our league is able to be promoted or participate in the play-offs for this reason). In essence, the building blocks with the formation of the charity Linnets in the Community (more on that soon) are all in place for the club to grow to the next level.

Recruitment is under way for someone to become our inaugural community manager and head up the charity - this is in the final stages and will help cement the club as a force for good in the community. The final role needed is for a full-time commercial manager, based at the club, who can grow us commercially. Whilst we have a very small team looking at national and global opportunities (hopefully some of these will bear fruit for next season) we need a full-time person to bring in commercial sponsors into both the charity and the club. We hope to start recruiting for this role next week.

Our playing surface has had a lot of work over the recent years, but is still not good enough. Our high water table does not help and we are examining many different options, including a 3G pitch - two local companies have kindly helped us with a huge pump which will help hugely in getting excess water away from the ground, but I know there is still more to be done.

Two clubs in our league received grants for Premiership standard pitches to be built for free in their stadiums by allowing a local Ladies Premier League team to use it as their home base; so the other option is for our ladies team to get four successive promotions - then all our problems really would be solved.


Before we play Torquay, King’s Lynn Town’s Under 13s are due to play our local rivals King’s Lynn Elite and it would be great to finally get this show on the road. The Elite cancelled our previous encounter as, although they have as I understand it, 21 registered players, they could not get enough players for our fixture. King’s Lynn Town’s Under 15s had both their games against the Elite cancelled for similar reasons and the points were awarded to King’s Lynn. Both of our teams are top of their leagues but we would much rather win the points on the football pitch than be awarded them on a technicality. I do hope that we finally get a game today at Lynn Sport as otherwise some fans might conclude that they are afraid of playing us and I am sure that the JPL will not be happy with the situation - kick-off is at 12.30pm at Lynn Sport and admission is free.