You’ll notice looking back over the site, there has been nothing about new investment on here.
I’ve steered clear for a number of reasons, the main one being time! However, I really can’t justify being a Lincoln City fan site without touching upon it, because it would be missing a hugely important aspect of the club. On the field is where the core action is, the football we can judge with some degree of comfort. After all, we’re all experts who know best, aren’t we?
Off the field, it is not so easy. Back in 2011, I struggled to keep up with the wrangling and finer points of the EGM (God, remember that?), and I felt like a bit of a fool. I was in business for 20 years, sales admittedly, and despite managing my own depot’s P&L things like investment, balance sheets etc all go over my head. I dropped out of my AAT in 1999 (wish I hadn’t) and can put my own accounts in each year, but little more.
That’s why investment in a football club is, in my eyes, a tricky business for a layman to get too deep into. Take the recent news that Jay Wright has put another £500,000 into the club. Some fans might look at that and think ‘blimey, we might sign Tyler Walker back from Coventry for that money’, but it isn’t that simple. Money coming into the club doesn’t just go towards Michael’s budget, it’s there for other things such as the development of the Stacey West, upgrades to the EPC, better infrastructure for the Academy and recruitment teams. Think of it this way – if someone gave you £5000 tomorrow, what would you do with it? Sure, you could buy a new car and a PlayStation 5 (if you could find one, maybe harder to get than Tyler Walker), but you’d soon get earache wouldn’t you? I would, because I know the patio needs doing, we need a new fridge, Fe might like to go out for a bite somewhere and we have a holiday coming up. That’s why headline figures such as £500,000 are misleading because the Football Manager generation thinks Michael gets it, but he doesn’t, the whole club does.
Staying with that for a moment, I’m delighted to see Jay Wright able to invest more. Obviously, having a more secure football club is a bonus, but I’ve had the pleasure of being in several Supporter’s Board meetings with Jay and he’s a decent guy. What I like about him, aside from the benevolence and the fact he’s pointing it towards my club, our club, is that he’s a down-to-earth guy with a good sense of humour. He can lighten the mood a little with a one-liner in the meetings, but also has a deep understanding of business, as well as the needs and culture of the club. I seem to remember a former manager once saying a football club is only as good as its people and when its people are like Jay, or indeed Clive, Liam, Jez, Ian McCallum and the rest of the staff, then it is a good football club. I’ll confess, in the past, there have been people around the club who I’ve thought were dicks, key people too, but hand on heart, I can’t think of one now.
That leads into the other new investment from the US-based individual that has yet to be named. It is hard to comment too much, we don’t know the level of investment, the individual concerned or anything, but I have no fear. I know, from conversations on and off the record, that the investment hunt has been ongoing and the club have had bites before, but if those meetings have ever seen talk turn around to new grounds or relocation, then interest from our side wanes. Clive has said before the person has to be a fit with our ethos, the people we already have and share the same ideals. We want investment, obviously, but we are a well-run club with a heavy community ethos and people in charge who understand us as fans. Could that be doubted watching Clive on Sky Sports the other day? Not a chance. It was a brave move, to announce a US-based investor at a time when the US was being held up as a pariah for the whole Franchise League plan, but nobody around the fanbase worried. Why? Because we know. We know we’re in good hands and, with 99.9% certainty, if Clive Nates says an investor is a right fit for the club, they’re the right fit for the club. We have trust, transparency and belief.
That’s why I don’t write about the speculation around investment, because if it happens, then it is right for the club and if it doesn’t, it wasn’t. When it happens, as with Jay’s input, then I’ll happily pen something about it. Until then, I let the powers that be get on with their job of keeping us as a viable business, and I’ll get on with my job of trying to pretend I know more than Michael Appleton because I watched 90/180 minutes of football a week.
Still, with one set of near neighbours resigned to away days in Maidenhead next season, and the other transferring the ground to one of his own companies in exchange for writing off debt, it does make you realise just how lucky we are off the pitch, as well as on it. I know we laugh and talk about where we were four years ago, and say things about this season like ‘if you’d told me in August we’d be in the top three….’, but the most outlandish one of all is this: if you’d told me in February 2015, when the Coop Bank wanted rid of us and Bob Dorrian was bravely captaining a listing, lifeless ship, that within six years we’d be challenging for the Championship with investors on board from around the world, and that we’d be the one shining light of professional club ownership in Lincolnshire, and a fine example to all of the EFL, I’d have laughed in your face. Hell, it would have been the loudest of laughs around our club, but most that could be heard were directed from rivals, such as Championship wannabes Scunthorpe, or Grimsby who finished higher than us every bloody season. Some even came from our own City, where 2,000 fans had belief, but the rest of the population just used to tolerate the little none league club, to some observers nothing more than a laughing stock since 2011.
Well, to coin a phrase from Bob Monkhouse, they’re not laughing now.