Keith Curle, manager of Carlisle United, has entered the race to be public enemy number one in Lincoln fan’s eyes by lashing out in a local media interview today.
He’s a late entry and is lagging an awful long way behind Steve Evans who is out in front by some distance, but Curle may be coming up quickly on Mark Cooper of Forest Green Rovers.
When quizzed about Carlisle’s budget, the same Carlisle that reached the play-off semi-finals this season, he is quoted as telling the News and Star:
“We won’t be able to compete with people buying players for a quarter of a million quid, like Luton – we haven’t got that sort of finances. We can’t go out and sign 14 players and put them all on top League Two money like a Mansfield. We can’t offer extortionate signing-on fees to centre-forwards like a Lincoln have done, and paying League One wages. But we’ve got a competitive budget and a changing room that’s got a competitive element of good players who can play at a high level.”
I would imagine he is referring to our deal to bring Matt Green to the club, and whilst I can imagine that a decent signing on fee was part of the deal, I don’t believe for one second that the wage structure was broken to ‘League One’ standards. Surely, if that was the case, we would have already signed Lee Angol and possibly Jordan Williams too?
I can understand his frustration in some part, Luton do have a big budget but to be fair to them, they are a big club for this level. Luton Town should be in the Championship given their fan base, and they’ll be spending this season to try to achieve that.
He’s not far off with his comments amount Mansfield Town either, they have spent big and laughably have also predicted they’ll turn a profit this year, although without a shady sponsorship deal by the chairman I don’t see how that is possible.
I’m also a little annoyed that he seems to suggest Mansfield are paying League Two wages whilst we are paying League One wages. we’re not the money-men trying to buy success, we’re not Forest Green nor are we Notts County. How does Curle justify making us out to pay top-notch wages when Terry Hawkridge allegedly got a ‘double your money’ offer from the Magpies? I’m also told that Luke Waterfall could have had a County move if he’d wanted, again on severely increased terms, and yet it is us that he labels as the big wage payers?
What interests me is Curle insistence that his side are not in a position to compete financially in one breath, whilst confirming in the next they have a competitive budget. Carlisle have always been one of those sides that seem yo-yo between League One stability and League Two struggle. In my time I can recall years where they’ve been competing in the third tier with the likes of Michael Bridges on board, but also times they’ve struggled and needed on-loan goal keepers to score last minutes goals to keep them in the league.
What is curious is that perhaps they should have a budget comparable to our own. Brunton Park holds 18,000 fans, and the catchment area isn’t saturated with other clubs looking to steal the fan base. Last season they competed at the right end of the table, so I fail to see why they can’t at least be in with a shout of matching ourselves financially. Last season they averaged 5114 at home, a figure that has steadily risen year on year from a low of 4300 in 2013.
My point is that perhaps there isn’t any true reason for Curle to be getting uppity at us signing Green. It isn’t as if he’s the manager of Accrington, struggling on sub 2000 crowds and a fan base diluted by numerous clubs in the vicinity. Is he getting his excuses in early because of the nature of business we are doing? Is he just bitter about us landing Matt Green, or maybe Ollie Palmer?
Ultimately if his moans are surrounding clubs backed by wealthy individuals that are propping up a business model that is unsustainable, then he’ll have my agreement all day long. However, that is not Lincoln City. Our financials are purely the result of a great season, not only the scintillating FA Cup run but also the increased league attendances and the hard work behind the scenes to attract viable investment.
Do his comments elevate him to public enemy status? No, not really. I think they’re just the excuses coming from a manager who fears the worst before a ball has even been kicked. When Danny referred to us missing out on players, he didn’t direct his comments at anyone team, perhaps well aware that they could be seen as barbed or jealous comments. Keith Curle is from the old school of football management, he’s been around the lower leagues long enough now to know that the bulk of his career will be spent at the helm of a club down here. Danny is different, hopefully as he moves up the divisions he’ll take us with him, and he’ll do that by displaying respect for other managers,* class and humility
* For the record, I don not show respect to other managers, certainly not those who have irked me in the past. I recall Keith Curle often being less than complimentary about Lincoln City under Keith Alexander. I remember his ‘long ball’ comments, his ‘you know what you get with Lincoln’ comments and frankly I don’t forget in a hurry. It may be ten or twelve years later, but I’m afraid he is one manager I do not have respect for.