Football League remains the aim for King's Lynn Town chairman Stephen Cleeve after his first year at The Walks
King's Lynn Town chairman Stephen Cleeve was interviewed for the latest edition of The Pink Un magazine. Ahead of the Linnets starting their Southern Premier Division campaign at home to Gosport today, here is the first part of that article.
It’s been an eventful 14 months since businessman Stephen Cleeve bought King’s Lynn Town and set his sights on promotion.
“I think this club should be playing League football,” the new Linnets supremo said, without setting a timeframe on how soon that could be achieved.
Cleeve bought the club in May 2016 from Buster Chapman, who had helped bring football back to Lynn in 2010 after the original club had been wound up in December 2009 following financial meltdown.
After getting his feet under the table the difficult decision to part ways with manager Gary Setchell was made in February, with a play-off place in the Southern League Premier Division looking out of reach, having played for the club and overseen 350 games in charge of the team since 2010.
Some welcomed the decision, others disputed it, but when Norwich City legend Ian Culverhouse was brought in as Setchell’s replacement, all were reminded of Cleeve’s lofty ambitions.
“Have I enjoyed it? I don’t know,” admits the 50-year-old owner of The George Hotel in Cley. “If I look where we are now and where we were when I took it over, I’m pretty sure we’re in a better place.
“Enjoyment is tricky. The matches themselves I’ve found less enjoyable because there’s so much riding on them, nerves and whatever.
“When you watch as a fan you just enjoy the football but if you see someone get injured, as a chairman, you think ‘oh sugar, there’s another three or four hundred quid a week I’ve got to find to replace him’. It’s not just purely the financial things but you’re just not able to relax as much as when you’re watching as a supporter, but anyway, we soldier on!”
Cleeve has put somewhere between £40,000 and £50,000 of into the club on top of the £250,000 which saw him take control of the Linnets. Yet in former Canaries and Aston Villa assistant manager Culverhouse, Cleeve feels he has got the man to bring unprecedented success to west Norfolk.