MP brands FA decision 'despicable'

PUBLISHED: 08:00 29 May 2009 | UPDATED: 16:17 10 September 2010

Annabelle Dickson

North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham last night labelled the FA's decision to reject King's Lynn's ground grading appeal as 'despicable'. A three-member panel of Derbyshire FA officials upheld the Conference's ruling to demote the Linnets for failing to initiate a £250,000 upgrade on their council-owned Walks stadium.

North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham last night labelled the FA's decision to reject King's Lynn's ground grading appeal as 'despicable'.

A three-member panel of Derbyshire FA officials upheld the Conference's ruling to demote the Linnets for failing to initiate a £250,000 upgrade on their council-owned Walks stadium.

"I think this is incredibly unfair and extremely sad not just for King's Lynn and West Norfolk but for the fan base across Norfolk and in Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire," he said. "I think it's despicable. There is complete outrage in the area. People are very, very angry and they just feel that for a club that has worked so hard to get promoted and worked with the council to get a new stadium, for it to fall apart in this despicable way is terrible."

King's Lynn FC were told they faced demotion earlier this month after failing to begin work meeting a Conference April deadline. Despite a cash pledge from West Norfolk council and a promise the upgrade would be complete by the beginning of the 2009/10 season the FA has now ruled the club must play in the Unibond or Southern League next season.

West Norfolk council leader Nick Daubney said: "We are bitterly disappointed that the club's appeal was unsuccessful. King's Lynn Football Club is important to the town and to the local community. We've done everything we can to help the club and will continue with the planned works to bring the stadium up to the required standards in spite of this ruling.

"We are confident that the hard work, commitment and enthusiasm of the team and its supporters will swiftly secure the promotion the team rightfully deserves."

The club's loyal fanbase pledged to support the club despite relegation back to step three of the non league pyramid barely 12 months after winning promotion from the Southern League.

Fan Kevin Chase said: "I did not think we would win, but I hoped we would. At the end of the day the club doesn't own the ground, they are dealing with the council. I think the council should be applauded for their help in getting the work done. I think the Conference has been petty minded. I don't think the club deserved it by any stretch of the imagination. Most people would have said, 'Great, Lynn are getting the work done and it will be ready for next season.'

"All it has done is alienate a football club against the governing body. I think the majority of the fans will be annoyed or disgruntled at the way the Conference and the FA have dealt with this. I like to think the fans will stay the same or maybe increase as a rallying thing. They'll think 'We'll show you what we can do.'

"The club has got a great fan base but things like that obviously mean nothing to the powers that be. The Conference is just blinkered."

Long standing Linnets supporter and club shop owner Gordon Chilvers said: "I am not surprised. No one has ever taken on the Conference and been successful with an appeal. Basically we haven't done what we were told to do and this is the consequence of it."

But Chilvers said he did not believe the fans would stay away as a result.

He said: "I do not think it will have an impact on the number of people who go to watch. If they are in a lower league they will win more games. I think there will be more there than last time. Football supporters are fickle people. If you lose games they start staying away."

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