Signing former Canaries duo will not lead to financial worries for King’s Lynn Town chief
With the memories of financial disaster still fresh in the mind for King’s Lynn Town fans, chairman Stephen Cleeve assures DAVID FREEZER the signing of Grant Holt and Simon Lappin is not a risk.
King’s Lynn Town chairman Stephen Cleeve insists he has not risked financial stability by signing former Norwich City players Grant Holt and Simon Lappin.
The duo join Canaries legend Ian Culverhouse, in his first job as manager having previously been assistant at Norwich and Aston Villa, at The Walks.
City youth products Ryan Jarvis, Cameron Norman and Michael Clunan are all in the squad as well but Cleeve is satisfied with the Linnets’ balance sheet as they tee up a push for promotion from the Evo-Stik Southern Premier Division.
The businessman, who owns the George Hotel at Cley, bought the club from speedway chief Buster Chapman for around £250,000 in May 2016 and set his sights on chasing the Football League dream.
“That’s the difficult part isn’t it, how do you afford it, and it’s been a hard decision trying to work it out,” Cleeve explained, after unveiling Lynn’s high-profile new signings.
“We’re not over-extended but equally we need support from local business, the town. This is good for the town and the money we get from the town, the more money we can put into the club.
“We put a couple of quid on the gate price this season, most of the fans voted for that, and I said if they were to vote for it I would bring in some good players.
“I don’t think they realised how good the players were that we were going to get but I wasn’t lying, I just couldn’t tell them who the players were at that time, although I had an idea in the back of my head.”
Plenty of non-league clubs have gambled more than they can afford to bring in big names over the years but Cleeve insists he is on top of the situation – with thoughts of the town’s original club folding in 2010 still fresh in the mind.
“It has been a difficult process working out the finances and it always will be because the finances of football clubs are not really easy to work out,” Cleeve continued.
“They are not really business to be honest with you because you put it all in the top and it all comes out the bottom!
“So you do your best but these are one-year deals, they’re not long-term deals and we have to cover ourselves in case it doesn’t work out but I can get through this season whatever happens so we’ll think about next season ahead of next season.”
Holt and Lappin signed their deals on Monday and made their Lynn debuts on Tuesday night, making late cameos in a 2-0 win over Hitchin at The Walks.
“This has been the conclusion of several weeks worth of talks with Simon and Grant – and I’m delighted that they’ve both come to the club,” the Linnets chairman said with a broad smile.
“Ian’s been very keen to bring them both here, I think they’re going to add a lot to the team and they are probably the two biggest signings that the club has ever made.
“So the football at the moment is great and with the addition of Grant and Simon it’s going to be even better. I’m delighted that they’ve chosen to come here.
“I think we’re progressing in the right manner and I’m looking forward to the rest of the season.”
The win over Hitching keeps Culverhouse’s team fourth in the table, four points behind leaders Kettering, ahead of the visit of lowly Kings Langley tomorrow.
Eight wins from 11 games has raised hopes of a return to the second tier of the non-league pyramid, where the original club was playing in 2008-09.
“I’d love to go up, I’ve made no secret of that, but I can’t control that,” Cleeve said. “All I can do is put the building blocks in place and hope that it works.
“It’s going to raise expectations for sure, because they are players with great reputations themselves, but that’s not a bad thing.
“We need to handle that and we’re not a million miles off it, we just need to stay in the hunt and hope it all falls kindly for us.”
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The addition of the former Canaries players has added interest in what is going on in the west of the county for City fans, as well as in Lynn.
An attendance of 1,067 was the Linnets biggest yet of the campaign and Cleeve is keen to strengthen those links.
“Obviously they’re the biggest club in the county,” he added. “I didn’t go out of my way to strengthen the links with them but I obviously would like to strengthen them because we’re the poor brother of the two.
“When Ian came on board with his links with Norwich and his experience with a lot of these players, it makes a lot of sense.
“We’d like to strengthen links with a lot of clubs though because what we’re trying to do, it’s not easy, to be where we are.”