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Lynn supremo on the stark reality of a coronavirus shutdown

PUBLISHED: 17:00 15 March 2020 | UPDATED: 17:20 15 March 2020

King's Lynn chairman Stephen Cleeve admits a pause to the Linnets' National League season due to coronavirus has major implications on every level Picture: Ian Burt

King's Lynn chairman Stephen Cleeve admits a pause to the Linnets' National League season due to coronavirus has major implications on every level Picture: Ian Burt

Ian Burt Photography

National League hopefuls King’s Lynn will need to find a five figure cash sum just to get through a potential coronavirus shutdown.

The Linnets missed out on a chance to reclaim top spot on Saturday in a 1-0 home defeat to Guiseley that was one of the few games played across the country, following the suspension of professional football.

The National League's top brass now look set to follow suit, with reports a decision to suspend all future games could come as early as Monday.

Former Norwich City stalwart Ian Culverhouse's side's away game at Gloucester on Monday has now been postponed, while next weekend's opponents Kettering announced on Saturday they have a player in self-isolation.

Linnets' chairman Stephen Cleeve admits the future is uncertain for clubs lower down the ladder.

'At the levels below, in the vast majority of cases, the players only get paid if they play. That is not the case for us,' he said. 'If they are legally contracted to be paid until the end of the season then they expect to be paid.

'What does one do? How do you pay those players with no matchday income coming in? We rely on that. I don't know the answer to that. I hope some help comes for clubs but how you work that out when certain non league clubs have higher wage budgets than others is difficult.

'I will have to find a way through it. There is always a way. We just have to find a solution. Other leagues have 24-month contracts. We have some players on two year deals but others who will be out of contract in May.

'If you cannot play the games there are only two options.

'One is to cancel the league, which in my opinion would be a disgrace and an outrage and take away the league's integrity. The other option is to work it out on a points-per-game basis, which seems the sensible option.'

Lynn's decision to play the day after the Premier League and Football League announced a suspension drew inevitable criticism.

'The government advice, the league advice was contrary to that,' said Cleeve. 'You would have to ask other clubs in our league or other leagues what was the reason they chose to postpone games.

'Nothing is ever simple and easy in football. We don't want to undermine the severity of the virus but my argument was you could perhaps get this more easily in a supermarket.

'The rugby Super League went ahead, we had the Cheltenham festival last week unaffected, the Northern Premier league and National South were both on.

'For the fans and players we want to play football. That is what we do. We are a football club.

'There is no way you can fit in the number of games left - if there is a break.

'If a club has a player who is infected the players from that club have to enter a period of self-isolation for two weeks. The reality is the games cannot be played.'

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