Linnets land £350k Main Stand windfall

Ambitious King's Lynn chairman Ken Bobbins yesterday hailed the club's £350,000 Main Stand re-development project as a major step forward in their quest for football league status.

Ambitious King's Lynn chairman Ken Bobbins yesterday hailed the club's £350,000 Main Stand re-development project as a major step forward in their quest for football league status.

The progressive Southern League, Premier Division outfit unveiled plans to renovate the 50-year-old stand after securing a £150,000 grant from the Football Foundation's 'football stadia improvement fund' (FSIF) in a successful joint bid with partners West Norfolk council.

Council officials had already earmarked £200,000 of capital funding towards the project which will provide a new roof, modern seating, changing rooms and provision for a disabled supporters' section.

Building work is set to commence at the end this season and continue throughout the summer ahead of the scheduled 2007/08 kick off in August.

“We are planning for the next five years - not just the current season and this is further proof,” said Bobbins. “With a few minor modifications we view it as another stage in bringing the ground up to a 7,500 football league standard stadium. We've been working on this particular project for over two years. Floodlighting is another aspect we need to address and that's something we are costing out at the moment. When it's financially viable we will look to upgrade.

“All these things take time, of course, and the same applies to what we want to try and achieve on the pitch. There was a little hiccup when Tommy Taylor left but I remain confident we can mirror the rate of progress that is now happening off the pitch.”

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Bobbins revealed the club are poised to sign a new 25-year lease on the council-owned facility. Councillor Elizabeth Nockolds, cabinet member for culture, insisted the large scale building project would bring far reaching benefits.

“I believe King's Lynn Football Club is very important for West Norfolk,” she said. “I am pleased that the council is assisting the club to improve facilities for their loyal supporters. As owners of the ground we wanted to see a safe and comfortable facility provided for spectators. We've negotiated a new lease with the club that should ensure the upkeep of the ground for many years to come. The new lease also encourages the club's community football scheme which is so important to youth development in the borough.”

Lynn director Jimmy Suckling confirmed the Main Stand revamp was essential to safeguard the club's long term future. The existing structure was opened in August 1956 by FIFA President at the time, Arthur Drewry, at cost of £27,000.

“The ground is getting old,” he said. “Soon the stand would not have passed safety checks. This work will improve safety and comfort for spectators and ensure the ground is suitable for our current level of football and higher levels in future years. The club would like to thank the council for their hard work and support in gaining the necessary funding and making all the improvements possible.”

The Football Foundation has invested more than £80m since July 2000 to help create a modern, safe, environment at lower league football grounds.

“I'm delighted to see the FSIF funding helping King's Lynn FC in this way,” said chief executive Paul Thorogood. “I pay particular tribute to the hard work of everyone at the club and the council for making this funding a reality. A vibrant community team is vital for the future of football. The FSIF's aim is to revolutionise funding for grass roots football in the same way the professional game has been transformed over the last ten years.”