In light of the announcement this afternoon that League One is now finished, for us at least, Clive Nates has penned an open letter to Imps supporters.
In it, we get a look at the options around current season tickets, and a glimpse into the challenges facing the club. Read it, digest it and we’ll be doing some analysis a little later.
On behalf of everyone at Lincoln City FC, I hope that you and your loved ones are keeping safe and well during these challenging times. I understand that many of our fans and their family members are NHS staff and key workers and I would like to thank them personally for their selfless courage over the past few months.
I would also like to pay tribute to the unwavering support shown by our fans not only throughout this pandemic but during my entire tenure as Chairman at Lincoln City FC. We will strive to continue on our epic journey despite the enormous challenges ahead.
You will have seen that the decision has been made to curtail the 2019/20 season and I’d like to put on record my thanks to everybody connected with Lincoln City FC for their hard work during the campaign.
Our preference at the outset was to complete the season on the pitch, however we did support the vote to curtail the season, which was backed by an overwhelming number of clubs, for a number of reasons.
Firstly, many of our fellow clubs are already on the edge of financial existence. Forcing them to play on could be a fundamental factor in pushing one or more of these clubs over the edge, putting our whole football pyramid in jeopardy.
Secondly, and linked to this, resuming at this very late stage would have a knock-on effect as to when the 2020/21 season could begin, which again would put further unnecessary financial pressures on all League One clubs.
The third and final reason is that due to a mixture of contractual and financial factors, many clubs would have been forced to field weakened teams, resulting in the competition and sporting integrity of the game being further damaged.
We do accept there are failings in any artificial mechanism applied to achieve a sporting outcome and have great sympathies with those who feel this has been to their disadvantage. From the very beginning of discussions, we have made it clear that we were seeking the fairest of a group of unfair solutions. All things considered we truly believe this has been achieved.
There is no doubt that the financial implications on the Club and the local economy are significant. Whilst we have taken swift action in recent weeks to safeguard the Club’s future, we still face potential revenue losses of around £1million with the curtailing of the 2019/20 season.
This figure includes commercial partnerships, season ticket rebates, hospitality revenue, matchday income and retail sales. Over the past few months, we have been able to reduce our expenditure by furloughing the majority of team members and effectively putting the Club into hibernation. This will go a long way to safeguarding the future of the Club but we continue to rely upon the efforts of everyone in and around Lincoln City FC.
COVID-19 has had a significant effect on everyone’s lives, yet the strength of the local community has been outstanding. It is our firm belief and intention that together, we will get through this, and the Club is determined to play its part in helping the city of Lincoln recover. Be in no doubt, you, as supporters of Lincoln City, will play an important role in this revival.
I understand that our fans face a variety of individual circumstances in these challenging times and so, with this in mind, all 2019/20 season ticket holders will be offered three options:
• The first option enables you to convert your remaining season ticket balance to shares within the Club;
• The second option enables you to convert your remaining balance to shares on behalf of the Red Imps Community Trust;
It is important to note that these first two options will help to significantly improve Lincoln City’s financial position coming out of this pandemic. However, we urge fans to consider their own financial situation ahead of that of the Club. We are grateful for any support you can offer but there are no expectations. Therefore:
• The third option allows you to receive a refund on a pro rata basis to include all lost home games this season. This includes the Bury fixture originally scheduled for 23/11/19. More information on this option will be communicated in the next 48 hours.
Moving forward, we will look for innovative ways to bring you the game that you love and to keep you safe whilst being connected to the Lincoln City family. In the longer term, we will look to find ways to thank you for sticking by us in these difficult times.
You are a credit to this football club, and we would not be where we are without your unending support. The Board, management, players and everyone at the Club are determined to work towards a sustainable future for Lincoln City FC. With your support, I am confident we will emerge stronger.
Stay safe Imps
Clive Nates Chairman