A quick dose of reality – Why it’s not a bad thing at Sincil Bank right now

Courtesy Graham Burrell

It’s been a quiet few weeks, but today’s article in the Echo with Liam Scully piqued my interest somewhat, and it’s led me to want to pen a few words about some social media comments.

On the whole, there hasn’t been any panic of late. We’re making some late moves in the market, but there isn’t a doubt the work is going on. I have it on good authority that a possible new signing was introduced to some of the lads last week and I think fans know by now Danny and Nicky are always on it.

Just because we hear nothing doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to hear.

Anyway, the rhetoric this summer has been pointed at playing down expectation and I can understand that. Winning the league title gave us a feeling of invincibility, although Colchester disproved that on the final day. The reaction to Colchester’s win was interesting though; some fans felt as though we should have been rolling them over, despite having already won the league.

It made me wonder if the biggest problem this season isn’t one Danny and Nicky can handle, it’s fan expectation and to a certain degree, fans understanding.

Liam’s comments in the Echo certainly had me thinking. In case you haven’t seen them, he said: “We’re up against much bigger clubs and businesses. The challenges just gets bigger,”.”

“Financially the step is neutral, which means the challenges gets harder. The net benefit will be spent on wages and the club certainly isn’t better off.”

Essentially, just by going up the club is suffering financially. That fits in with the talk coming out about budgets, about investment etc. I feel that, to many laymen, this is being widely misinterpreted. On one of the Facebook sites the other night I read a comment that went along the lines of ‘why are we so skint? Where has the money gone.’

That’s a classic go-to answer when failing to grasp the reality of the situation. We’re not skint and that is the whole point of this article. We’re not hoarding cash, but we’re not fighting off people who we owe money to. We’re a well-run football club, living within its means. The so-called problem, which is as some see it, is we will not risk the long term future of the club on a whim.

In other words, there won’t be any speculation to accumulate, it’ll be about building in a sensible manner. Or, as Liam puts it; ‘We can’t and won’t risk the long-term health of the football club.’

Damn right.

What I’d hate is for some to believe the manager being starved of money that is sat in the bank, or the club being in serious danger of ‘doing a Bury / Bolton’. That’s not going to happen, the whole point of this frugal approach is for us to exist in League One and grow to become a major player.

I’ve seen comparisons drawn with Peterborough too. We get crowds similar to theirs, why can’t we spend £1.5m on Mo Eisa? Firstly, why would we want to? Why buy a player who went for that fee last summer and flopped? 

Secondly, Peterborough had significant investment last season, so they’re not playing with their club’s future. It’s no coincidence that they’ve gone from being a selling club (Assombalonga, Gayle, Washington, Marriott) to a serious buying club. They’re one step up the ladder in terms on infrastructure and whilst that’s not a sexy word in football, that is the reality. Darragh MacAnthony isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but he;s never played with his club’s future and to a degree, he’s been criticised for that. They don’t quite find the right blend to step up because they usually cash in on players, This season, they don’t have to.

Courtesy Graham Burrell

What it means is Danny and Nicky having to prove themselves yet again. They’ll have to deal smart, work hard on the training ground and when we do make signings, they’ll be the ones that draw comments like ‘underwhelmed’ from certain expectant fans. You know why? Because they’ll be those without a good season behind them. That’s the reality, but it doesn’t mean we’re signing crap players. 

Was Neal Eardley crap? No, of course not, but what had he done the three years before? What about Shay McCartan? He’d struggled at Bradford but did well for us. Danny Rowe didn’t get games at Ipswich, John Akinde only netted seven for Barnet the year before us, the list goes on. A footballer is judged by fans on his immediate past, but he’s judged by football people on his ability. 

I’m personally quite excited by three names I keep seeing; Grant, Ajose and Coker. All three perhaps haven’t had the best of times recently, but all three are just the sort of rough diamond that our team can work on. They’ll not be on top of shopping lists at Portsmouth, Sunderland or Rotherham but who knows, in a year’s time they might be.

Going up doesn’t open a box of riches, it brings a new delivery of challenges and battles. I’m sure a lot of supporters got excited about the fixture list, I didn’t; I near shat myself. Accrington Stanley looks like a good opening fixture and fourteen months ago I stood in the away end at their place and watched them play us off the park. That’s the level we’re at now.

However, I have absolute faith in the management team, both of the playing staff and the club as a whole. It’s not blind faith either, three years we’ve grown and developed and so far, there isn’t any sign of us being unable to do so again. 

It might take time, it might not be done by attracting the biggest names or the in-demand players, but it can be done. I believe it will be done and, judging by the lack of panic, I think others feel the same as I do.




  1. We have had 3 years of success I can’t compare to anything we have had in 50years of attending matches at the Bank, but fans need to be realistic, we have earned the right to be playing Sunderland, Ipswich etc, in the same league, We now have to earn the right to stay there.
    Anything above an halfway finish will be success to me, but at the same time we need to protect our future.
    I want to be sitting watching or waiting for results on the pitch, rather than with a minus 20 points deduction or news from the high court in Birmingham on our very future. Steady progression is the way.

  2. The bigger message for me from what Liam has said is can any club be realistically run as a business outside of the Premiership. I might be wrong but I read that we are £1m in the red, and while this is because we have invested heavily, we have also sold players for a good profit, had an exceptional cup run (one so exceptional last seasons that took us to the bonus away pay day at a prem ground look like peanuts) and have three times the sort of gate we would usually expect with all the additional revenue that comes from that. And other clubs are in the same boat. It just seems very hard to get lower league football to at least break even.

    Forest Green are hated by everyone for the crime of not selling meat, and for Dale Vince sinking money in. But a) all other clubs seemingly have to have a board willing to do this anyway and b) they are really embeded in the community with a gym and social club etc all part of the round the week income. So they have made a big push to be sustainable. But they are heavily reliant on one man on his loans. Without TV money it seems clubs outside the premiership are always going to be on a knife edge with finances, while at the same time making players relatively wealthy.

    I suppose the good thing is, Lincoln are in the least bad situation of them 🙂

  3. The usual calm, sensible and measured approach by Gary to problems or perceived problems. In this case, most definitely it’s a perception that there’s a problem. I have only supported Lincoln City since I moved to the area in 2015 and my first game was the first home game in the Cowley era, so I have no experience of the trials and tribulations of the earlier years. Indeed, from what I understand there have been few years of such sustained success as I have witnessed, so I count myself as very fortunate to be a supporter in the present period. By now, we know the “Cowley way” and so there is no need for panic or frustration at the lack of news of new signings. Lincoln City is, I have found, a delightful club to support where the supporter is valued extremely highly not only as a paying customer but also as a friend, so let us allow the club and its managers to proceed in the sure and certain hope that they will not disappoint us.

  4. Very sensible and reasond piece Gary, thankfully we dont have the panic of the last two years in some quarters

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