The Imps have released the latest Supporter’s Board minutes on the club website, and contained within is a fascinating insight into the impact the club has on the wider City.
Of course, as things stand, there is little to no impact as games are being played behind closed doors and shops are shut anyway, but a study, discussed in the notes, reveals that the local High Street enjoys huge benefits on a typical Lincoln City home fixture. Depending on who we play and at what time of the year, the figure can vary, but a study recently conducted suggests that the High Street sees trade improve from 40% up to a whopping 300%.
Sadly, whilst the headline is very positive, other numbers contained within the minutes are a little more concerning. We already knew the pro playing budget had been reduced by 40%, a startling figure when you consider how successful the team has been, but the other numbers around Covid-19 and fans not being in stadiums are concerning.
It is easy to forget the crisis engulfing football, especially with what is essentially a lockdown Christmas on the horizon and the club doing well, but that spectre of financial ruin is still lurking, waiting for clubs if this drawn-out bailout is not properly agreed. Kieran Maguire, a football finance analyst and creator of the Price of Football podcast, attended the meeting and revealed December is very much the tipping point for many clubs. Well, we’re looking December square in the face and as yet, help is not on hand.
Whilst that is the date for many clubs, it has been speculated in media we may have a month or two beyond that, but the stark reality of the situation is laid bare in the minutes, with a £1.5m deficit to be filled. This is with lower expenditure on the pro budget, with redundancies and other cost-cutting measures in place.
Another headline from the minutes is the redevelopment of the area around the ground, and the grant from the Football Foundation of £950,000 which feeds into that work. Phase One is scheduled to complete in February 2021 and is a green space on the existing astroturf to be used by the community. It is not for the lads to train on, but again something the benefits local people on a physical level. Longer-term, the development of the Stacey West stand will add capacity to Sincil Bank, but also become home to our Foundation, as well as provide community spaces and classrooms. there is also mention of additional jobs created during the work too, which again is a positive aspect for the community.
Whilst it is encouraging to see how positively the club impacts the local economy, there is so much work to do in English football to help not just Lincoln City, but those clubs for whom December is the date at which things start to go awry.