An article by Lincolnshire Live has suggested that the club could look to screen matches at the showground if they cannot host supporters at Sincil Bank this year.
As we know, football is in an uncertain place at the moment and nobody truly knows what will happen in the next two weeks, let alone the next six months. Some have suggested that football could be played behind closed doors until January with others suggesting that neutral venues might be used in the short-term. The truth is this; nobody knows. To speculate on what might happen won’t do any good, but to have a contingency in place is sensible business by the club.
That seems to be the feeling of Chief Executive Liam Scully, who told local media that the club would look for innovative ways to remain viable over the short term.
“As a League One and League Two football club, the majority of our income comes from 30 trading days a year which is ultimately match day revenue and cup runs,” Liam told BBC Radio Lincolnshire.
“So losing that from the football club is a huge impact, so we’ve got to look at creative and innovative ways just to protect that, but equally serve the loyal and dedicated fans who have supported us over the recent years and long before that.
“There’s a lot going on, lots of planning but our focus at the moment is health and well-being and making sure we comply with guidelines. But of course, we have got to make sure that Lincoln City FC survives this and continues beyond the 136 years that we are at the moment.”
That could apparently involve a drive-in style broadcast at the Showground, where fans could either watch with social distancing in mind or perhaps watch matches from the seclusion of their own vehicle. One thing is certain; watching games at Sincil Bank would be hard, I’m so close to the people next to me that I can feel their phone vibrate when it’s in the opposite pocket to me. That is something we’re unlikely to experience soon as the country gets back to normal, hence the need for a Plan B.
Is this a viable Plan B? It won’t be for everyone, but there is little doubt the club has to do something. I firmly believe football as we know it will change after this pandemic. Player’s wages will likely fall and clubs might have to be smarter with their revenue, but I also feel firmly that we won’t change as fans. We will still expect to watch games, we will still drink beer, buy shirts and programmes and get mad at anything (even a defender who provides two assists in a 3-2 win). If our nature won’t change, but the environment does, then it is the club that have to be reactive to survive in the new environment.
Much of this reminds me of the ITV Digital farce. As a club, we had to change after that. We went into administration and the whole club changed overnight; it galvanised fans and gave us a real ‘them and us’ attitude. Whilst all football clubs are in trouble at present, those that will survive will be the innovators, the ones who don’t take calculated risks, but measured decisions based on income and viability. It won’t be about forcing you to forget that you want a refund on your season ticket (as I’ve already seen one person comment), it is about making the best of a bad situation. The club has to react, somehow. Of course, they won’t want you to claim a refund on your season ticket, but they similarly will be happy to refund those who need it. There is no subterfuge here, they’re not trying to con you, they’re trying to find a route through this so that you have a club to support afterwards.
Would I go to such an event? I suspect so, yes. If it was the only method by which I could watch my club then I’d go. I guess the experience would be odd though, not standing around in tight circles moaning about defensive frailties or goal-shy strikers, rather shouting it from your car window. However, football has had to make sacrifices before, as have Lincoln City, and at least they’re looking at ways to make the club viable as we emerge from a truly unprecedented experience.