‘Extreme Entitlement’ – Our Chairman Responds To Recent Club Criticism

This afternoon, there’s been a great post on Vital Lincoln City from none other than our Chairman, Clive Nates.

Firstly, let me tell you a bit about Clive (those who think I’ve got too big for my boots, look away now). I was incredibly lucky to have a meal with him on the final day of his stay here in the UK. Throughout dinner, we spoke about former players, favourite moments from the past and his passion for the club. It oozes out of every word he says, and when he’s whipping his mobile out between courses to show Harvey Jabarra the Nathan Arnold goal from a couple of years ago, you know he’s more than just the Chairman; he’s a fan and a passionate one. In fact, I commented off the cuff that the day I got my dog I’d always remember as the day we drew 2-2 at Swindon; he instantly replied with ‘Jason Shackell and Bruno Andrade were sent off’, before we talked Shay McCartan wonder strikes.

Credit Graham Burrell

Why do I tell you this? To name drop? No, of course not. It’s because in Clive we have a man I trust with our football club and not everybody is lucky enough to witness that first hand. Looking back, many doubted Bob Dorrian when he was in charge, but hindsight has proven him to be a chairman worthy of his place in history. Sometimes, things appear one way at a moment in time, but without the benefit of hindsight, you can’t see what they really are. I often cite the protest in 2012 against Bob and the board, and many who were on that protest now look back and admit they didn’t know the full story of the time. I really, really hope that some of the Appleton Out brigade can take that perspective away from Clive’s words. I especially hope those thinking of abandoning the club because it’s not all Sweet Caroline and fist pumps have a rethink. The club needs committed fans, but attendances must not drop by significant amounts.

Back to the post, firstly, if you wish to read it, you can do so here. It’s very important to note Clive has chosen Vital Lincoln City to voice these points; contrary to some belief, Vitals does offer a varied opinion on many aspects of the club, and I have found myself heading there, rather than social media, to gain some perspective recently. It’s worth paying a visit there and Jules donates proceeds from the site to the club as well.

Credit Graham Burrell

Anyhow, on with Clive’s points. I present these directly copied and pasted from the forum, and I urge you to read them thoroughly.

“It’s great to be home in mostly sunny Johannesburg. Four weeks away is a very long time especially in current circumstances. It was extremely important to get over and see key people face-to-face for the first time in 21 months and to meet Harvey and his family and Landon for the first time. But it wasn’t what I would describe as an enjoyable trip – Omicron breaking the day I arrived, crap weather, getting put on antibiotics after getting sick, endless Covid tests, not seeing us win and probably being overly cautious in avoiding various situations such as even visiting the EPC while players and staff were around.

“But to the point of this thread. I have for obvious reasons limited my reading of posts on social media for a while now but decided in the last few days to catch up on the mood out there. I wouldn’t say I am surprised by what I read other than seeing how some long term fans are giving up on attending games or even watching us on iFollow. Unfortunately it confirms what I have been told via personal/direct messages and it does amaze me. How do I get my head around a fan, who watched the team at its worst times in non-league, now telling me he could not be bothered to come watch us against Hartlepool because he wouldn’t enjoy it? That together with a post from clanfordimp (quoted below) sparked that thought, What’s the point?

Yeah I totally get that it’s all about money and it’s a very fine balancing act but if I thought we were just a club that was just loaning a couple of Prem U/23 players then just trying to produce another couple of players to sell for 500 grand without having the ambition to move up the ladder ourselves then I would think what’s the point.

It’s up to the Chairman and the rest of the investors to show us that this is not the case but on the other hand I also do understand the kind of ridiculous money it takes just to get you anywhere near to challenging just to get out of this league never mind establish yourself in the Championship.

“I only got involved to the extent I did because I believed there was the possibility to progress the club and the response of the fans to our early success was a major part of that. It’s just too much time, effort and money from where I live for it to be any other way. I believe there is still that possibility under the current ownership structure but not if a significant number of fans ditch us so quickly at the first sign of difficulty.

“So what is the point? Does it mean simply mean having the ambition to move up the ladder as quickly as possible to keep the majority of fans on board? If so, we need a different type of ownership structure although having said that even Brighton and Brentford with billionaire owners had a period near the bottom of the table a season after finishing in the play-offs.

“I suppose it surprises me considering the club’s history that there is already such extreme entitlement. I thought there was a lot more substance to what we stood for in the community and that there would be a lot more patience from fans to try build a sustainable club considering that just a short while ago we were a lower half National League club and that 18 months ago we started the season with the primary objective of surviving the effects of Covid.

“Unfortunately the current reality is that it’s not just up to the Chairman and investors to show ambition. It’s a two-way street under the current model and board where only a limited few have the ability/desire to currently invest and those that do still have to fund the entitled ones from the past.”

Imps v Welling 2015 – Credit Graham Burrell

I would say I present this without comment, but that’s not my style. I’d like to, I think the words speak for themselves, but as people know I’ve not sat on the fence when it comes to some sections of the fanbase. I’m all for critique over players, I do it myself and you might say it forms the basis of the entire site. I comment on Michael’s team selection and all manner of other things, but I’d never abandon the club or stop going to games. Like two thousand of you out there, I still went when we played the likes of Welling (and lost), and you know what; I still didn’t boo. I have backed managers I shouldn’t have as well, Chris Sutton for one, but I don’t do it blindly; I called for Peter Jackson to go and was delighted when he did, even if we did struggle after that. My point is I’m not blindly saying we should back Michael Appleton because I get interviews and access; I’m saying it because I believe he’s the right man to take this club forward, 100%. The day Danny Cowley left the club, I wrote an article for FLW identifying three candidates. Two were Ainsworth and Flynn, the obvious ones, and the other was Michael. I believed in him before he’d stepped foot in the ground and I still do. That’s not bum licking, it’s not blind faith, it is my belief. Even if we did go down, even if we ended up in League Two again next season (which I really don’t think we will), I still think Michael is the best man for the job.

If you don’t agree, that’s cool, as long as you don’t start swearing at me on social media, we won’t have a problem. What I do see as a problem, a rather significant one, is that our club chairman and, lets be honest, the man who saved the club from collapse is having to post something like that. It’s this line that people should pay very close attention to; “I suppose it surprises me considering the club’s history that there is already such extreme entitlement. I thought there was a lot more substance to what we stood for in the community and that there would be a lot more patience from fans to try build a sustainable club…”

There were always going to be bumps in the road, but it is my belief that if you’re getting off the bus now, when the journey has just got a bit ropey, it is a real shame. By all means, express opinion, but at least think before you press enter or send on a tweet. You don’t know who might read it (Clive clearly catches up and I know other players and officials that do as well), or what long term effect your comments might have.