Linnets chairman Stephen Cleeve, right, is urging fans to pledge funds to enable the club to continue their season and avoid league fines.

FOOTBALL: King’s Lynn Town have launched a donation pledge scheme, which they hope will give assistance to their current financial plight due to the coronavirus pandemic situation and the National League’s decision to play on, without crowds.

The Linnets have been able to play only one match in front of a crowd this season and the announcement of the National League’s resolution to continue, despite financial help being offered to clubs only in the form of loans and not grants as had been the case earlier in the season, sees them in a parlous position.

Cameron King scored Lynn’s third goal of the game – Credit: Ian Burt

Club chairman Stephen Cleeve had said this week’s two homes matches, against Barnet on Tuesday and Weymouth tomorrow, were likely to be their last of the season unless external funding was found to prolong their season.

“Through no fault of its own, the club has found itself in a position that it can no longer afford to participate in the National League without the assistance of monies in a grant form,” he said.

“If the club took a loan in the current circumstances it would saddle it with a debt that would be around its neck for many years to come. Add to that the Prime Minister’s announcement that supporters will not be allowed into sports grounds until at least May 17, means we could have possibly only one more game this season with a crowd, on May 29, which even then would be limited.

“The Linnets donation pledge is a way for not only supporters of King’s Lynn Town but supporters of football around the county, the country and even the world to rally and support the club in these very difficult times.”

Priced at £300 each, the pledges are available to buy by visiting https://tinyurl.com/KLTpledge

“As a way of saying thank you for your donation, I will allow entry to the next 10 games played at The Walks,” added Cleeve.

“This may be the Aldershot fixture at the end of the present season or the pre-season games and early league fixtures of season 2021/22.

“It would be fair to say that unless a substantial amount of these pledges are taken up there is no guarantee that we will be able to continue this current season. I have also estimated that it will cost around £100,000 if we do not continue the season.

“I thank you in advance of your donations to our tremendous club.”

Pledges have already been forthcoming with Norwich City associate director Kevin Dack saying: “As a Norwich City supporter and general football fan of 50 years, it is very frustrating to view the challenges faced by King’s Lynn Town and other similar community football clubs in the face of the pandemic.

“In general, I would have hoped that football in a wider sense and/or the government would have resolved the issues.

“Community football clubs are a vital resource, which we must seek to protect. In that spirit I am happy to make a £300 contribution to King’s Lynn’s fundraising initiative and wish them well in their bid to retain their recently achieved status within the National League.” 

While the National League will continue, its feeder North and South Divisions will not, meaning there will be no promotion or relegation between the two levels. 

Linnets general manager Mark Hearle said: “Why are we being forced into continuing to play when all we will be doing is playing out games for the sake of the teams seeking promotion to the Football League? 

“Surely that clubs survive what has been a disaster of a season financially to play again in August when fans will be allowed back. 

“Dover are refusing to play further games until the current predicament is dealt with and Wealdstone have also furloughed some players because they cannot afford to continue without support.”

Meanwhile, the FA has called a halt to all football at steps 3-6, meaning an end to the Thurlow Nunn League campaigns of Downham Town and King’s Lynn u21s.

However, grassroots football – at steps 7 and below – including the Anglian Combination, Cambs League, North West Norfolk and Central & South Norfolk League, has been given permission to restart from March 29, subject to leagues deciding if they can complete their seasons. Decisions on that are under discussion.