How Media Looks To Exploit Lincoln City Across League One

Courtesy Graham Burrell

I’ve found it interesting over the last few weeks, as I’ve tried to up the ante on The Real EFL it has meant that I’ve been paying more attention to News Now.

For those who do not know, News Now is an aggregator that assembles headlines from trusted sources every few minutes, to create a full news picture. Nothing happens in our division without News Now delivering it to you, which is why it is a great resource for a site like The Real EFL.

It is also a battle, a constant fight to get your headline noticed over and above all others. For instance, Blackpool sign Ethan Robson previously of Sunderland. The official sources, the Blackpool site and local papers will just use something like ’23-y/o signs for Blackpool’. Others, later to the party with the news, then have to try to headline the same news in a different way to attract clicks. Some will pack other clubs in there (former Grimsby Town loanee signs for L1 club), whilst others look for opinion or comments (fans react as 23-y/o Sunderland man confirms new club). A popular tactic is club-stuffing, taking popular clubs from the division and using their name to attract the supporters to your piece.

Sunderland are a favourite in League One, along with Ipswich, Portsmouth and even us. Bolton and Bradford are the big draws in League Two, whilst it was always Leeds, Forest and Derby in the second tier. I find this interesting, that ‘little Lincoln City’ tend to be used by media outlets to attract attention, clicks and debate, it does suggest we’re a well-supported club with an eager fanbase, but how we’re used differs from outlet to outlet. I thought I’d look at three here, just for interest on a slow news day.

Imps v Fleetwood – Courtesy Graham Burrell

The first example has happened today in a story about Fleetwood. Now, they may be a big club in terms of finishing in the play-offs, but they are not a draw to sites like mine, the 72 or Football League World. Their stories rarely grab any attention and they’re only really worth covering if you get another club involved, for instance when they signed Ched Evans. Callum Camps leaving Rochdale for Fleetwood might be significant in terms of the player’s impact, but it wouldn’t draw many clicks from eager news fans. Anyway, Fleetwood Today has used us in a headline today to draw in a few views, on this article looking at squad values. It must be a slow news day as they’ve used an online resource to value the squads, which is hilarious. I always chuckle when an official media outlet uses a site that guesses values as a basis for a proper article. they’re suggesting our squad is worth £2.1m, with Tayo Edum weighing it at £400,000. Bear in mind that the same site has Conor McGrandles at £225k, Ben Coker at £135k and Anthony Scully with no value, and you’ll see how utterly ludicrous the article is. This comes from a proper newspaper too and it is a bold attempt to get clicks from our fanbase for an article which is, in essence, complete nonsense.

Yesterday, I got involved in a Twitter debate (along with others) with a journalist who covers Ipswich Town for the East Anglian Daily Press, which brings me to the second way we’ve been used by an official media outlet. In a now-deleted tweet, he claimed that along with Bristol City (he meant Rovers) and Blackpool, we were everything wrong with League One this summer in that we’d signed players after voting to end the season. I don’t need to go into how completely ridiculous this is, but it did suggest that we were spending big this summer in the hope of stealing a march on our rivals. The journalist did offer an apology when Clive made comment later on, but again I found it interesting; one outlet uses us to attract views to their article, whilst another offers us up as some sort of Salford City figure of League One. Is that really how we’re being viewed for securing four free players on deals? Certainly, the East Anglian Daily Press, a paper which has covered UEFA Cup wins and top-flight football, wants the supporters of their local club to think so. It felt to me like a bigger club offering us up as a sacrifice to make them feel better about their plight.

Imps v Ipswich – Courtesy Graham Burrell

Finally, I come on to the Portsmouth News, who often used our name in articles around finishing the season and around the salary cap. I think because Clive has views that he expressed in a certain way, this paper wanted to seize on that and add it to their agenda. This isn’t a case of wanting to make us out to be big-spending upstarts, nor to value our squad against fictional benchmarks, but instead bringing us into their fold when it comes to the salary cap voting. Let’s be clear; Portsmouth do not want a salary cap. They want to be able to use their clout to get out of this league, and rightly so. Their local paper won’t have any sway, but they want to reinforce the uncertainty around the ruling, so they use Lincoln City as an example of another club speaking out against it when, in actual fact, Clive expressed concerns about moving the date new players would count towards the cap into August. I found it interesting that they were suggesting that opinion was moving away from the cap and using us as an example as if to prepare their fans for outrage should it go through, despite clubs like us turning against it.

I’m not sure you’ll have found all of this interesting, but I do. I find media today fascinating, truly fascinating. I see the press release that the club sends out and have to chuckle when proper papers with paid advertising use it ad verbatim. I also feel for those who used to rely on the Echo as we watch it writhing in pain, suffocated by furloughing Mark Whiley and occasionally spurting out some news when resources allow. I’m not sure the likes of me, or sites like me around the country are ready to properly fill the gap in terms of liaising with managers ether; I have MA’s number and haven’t used it since Christmas as I don’t feel it is my place to butt in on his day when he has better things to do, but when you consider these official journalists and their attempts to use our name in their articles, I do wonder if maybe the rise of alternative media has seen a swift ascent courtesy of the recent pandemic. I mean, seriously, if Fleetwood Today can do an article about fictional values and make it seem factual, where does it end? We may as well just put Football manager squad value up there, or ask Joan from the Post Office who she thinks is worth more money.

Media is changing and I just hope that as it does, this site still provides you with decent coverage, even if we do occasionally have to doctor a headline to stand out!




  1. Don’t worry about your site old boy, it stands out for all of the right reasons.
    The quality of the so called journalism in the Echo/Lincolnshire Live is questionable, gives the firm impression it’s written by 12 year olds. For instance count the number of times they use the words “horror,” “shocking,” and “furious,” perhaps the kids think it’s the Sun
    PS: Still fretting about the release of Bozzy, along with many other fans it seems.
    Keep up the excellent work Gary, you’re interesting, relevant and fit for purpose. No worries.

  2. Thanks for the explanation Gary. I Google Lincoln City in News every day and now know why I’ve ended up in some boring articles. Club Stuffing is a new one for me. At least they’re about football though and not a seaside town in Oregon US.

  3. Interesting stuff, I read the stuff that pops up on my google feed & as you point out, it rarely has any significant relevance to us even though our name was used in a spurious headline.
    Your site is my one stop that I 100% trust apart from the official site.
    Please don’t succumb to the pressure of getting clicks, it’s what sets you apart from the other outlets.

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