Cleeve’s corner: Our first steps towards going full-time at King’s Lynn Town

The Walks under the lights Picture: Ian Burt

The Walks under the lights Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Archant

On the pitch, King’s Lynn Town have been having a tough time of it recently.

King's Lynn Town owner Stephen Cleeve Picture: Ian Burt

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

FA Cup progress was achieved with several Notts County players being taken out by Covid, which gave us a home bye to the first round. This tie will see us travel to Port Vale, which has a suite named after its most famous fan, Robbie Williams who, I am reliably informed, is doing what he can to help the club in these difficult times.

The Saturday before last saw us lose to Weymouth after missing a penalty with the score at 1-1, and then giving away a penalty in the dying minutes which the Terras duly scored. We were in an equally generous mood when Wealdstone visited The Walks on Tuesday night, giving away another penalty, although this time the score was 2-2 at the time, but the result was the same with Wealdstone taking the points back to London with them.

This has prompted the manager, Ian Culverhouse, to look at our part-time model and realise it is probably not fit for purpose with the vast majority of teams in our league being full-time football clubs.

As a result, we have gone into overdrive, secured daytime training facilities, arranged breakfasts, lunches and vitamins, engaged sports scientists and dietary specialists and as from November the vast majority of the squad will train three times a week – two mornings and one evening. This will give the manager important contact time with the squad and he can take time to get his message over to the team as opposed to having 90 minutes once or twice a week being crammed into the end of a working day for most of our players.

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This hybrid model is, we hope, a stepping stone to the club going full-time.

Off the pitch we have been forced to look at the full-time model for entirely different reasons. Every National League club has until the end of November to apply to join the Football League. We are not, contrary to popular belief, fantasists, but actually realists as if we were to find ourselves in a play-off situation and maybe winners of that game then the Football League has to agree to let us into their league. Clearly this cannot be done in May and June without prior preparation so the process starts now for all the clubs, although only two teams will be able to pass through the door into the promised land.

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This exercise has really focused my mind – the 93-page document covers everything and bangs home lots of important points. Your manager must have a Uefa coaching badge (that box was easily ticked once Ian retrieved his pro licence from his loft), our physio and medical staff need specific qualifications as does our groundsman. I knew that our floodlights would need upgrading, but what I did not know is that the cost of doing so would be around £150,000 (quotes have to be supplied for every ground improvement). The rather charming tradition of fans swapping ends at half-time will be outlawed and instead we will have to ensure that it does not happen, which means extra toilets and catering in the stands that do not have these facilities so that’s another £100,000.

Dressing rooms are next on the agenda. Our home dressing room would be ruled obsolete – with just 25 square metres it falls five square metres short. The away dressing room misses by 12 square metres and the referee’s fails by just the one square metre and a shower head (you need two – we only have one). We do have a ladies’ official dressing room which oddly can be of any size, so that’s the only room that would be league compliant. We will probably have to spend another £60,000 to reorganise and move around that lot.

To be able to qualify, our stadium must hold 4,000 fans with the ability to increase the capacity to 5,000 with a minimum of 500 seats. To be admitted to the league we must reach a 5,000 capacity (we will in a few days as we have works in hand) and have 1,000 seats. This we passed with flying colours, but just as I was gleefully ticking boxes with a smile, I found out we had to have 2,000 seats within three seasons. This means we would need to build a whole new stand which would probably be situated at the Hospital End of the ground and would probably add at least £1m to the bill.

Whilst we added three extra seats to our dug-outs this season, I found out that our 13 seats were no longer enough and I would need to add one more. Equally, I was several power-points short in the press box - although we did have enough ISDN lines, but we would certainly need more seats to accommodate the gentlemen of the press.

Luckily, I have just bought a full-size pitch protector for the club so that box was ticked, but we do not have a spare set of goals in case our current ones were to fracture mid-game! The list does go on, but I think you can get the gist.

Getting promoted off the pitch seems to be almost as difficult as doing it on the pitch.

I have heard some fans comment that the game is now all about money. I have no idea how they would have possibly come to that conclusion.

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