Bobbins accuses Conference of double standards
Paddy Davitt King's Lynn chairman Ken Bobbins has accused the Conference hierarchy of double standards after threatening his club with expulsion.
King's Lynn chairman Ken Bobbins has accused the Conference hierarchy of double standards after threatening his club with expulsion.
Lynn have been given 14 days to appeal the Conference's decision to demote the club having failed to begin remedial work on a �250,000 upgrade to The Walks. Bobbins' is adamant the second-best supported club in the league already have one of the premier stadiums in the division.
"We have a team not a million miles from us in this league who had to use temporary toilet facilities when we went there," he said. "I also went to a ground in the north west at the start of the season where the male toilet facilities were literally a wall because their toilets were broken and unusable. I'm sure if we trawled through the rest of the league we could find a considerable number of grounds in a far more dilapidated state than King's Lynn, yet they seem to be immune from this scrutiny.
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"Whether or not we'll be the only team that fall foul of this I'm not sure, but I'm certainly not aware of any other clubs currently in this position.
"I feel its important we get this news out to our supporters because I don't want to leave us open to accusations that we have sold season tickets on the basis of misleading them. We naively assumed everything was fine because we had heard nothing to the contrary."
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Bobbins revealed the club and council began negotiations with Conference officials within weeks of having their place in Blue Square North confirmed after winning the Southern League last season.
"This dates right back to July 22 last year," he said. "But at every stage of the process both ourselves and the council have made it perfectly clear what the circumstances are and they are certainly unique in the sense the ground is owned by the council not the football club.
"The thing that really upsets me is the Conference knew all along that they are dealing with a large council yet they still say we should have started the alterations by the beginning of this month which was impossible to do because the council quite naturally must go through set procedures.
"They can't just put money aside because the Conference wants the work started by April 1."
Bobbins and council officials will now co-operate fully on the club's impending appeal.
"We'll be getting together with them in due course but they're as shocked as we are," he said. "As you can fully imagine this is a devastating blow - especially as the council have given the league undertakings the work will be done. The council in my view have been very generous to the club and they see the value of the football team to the local community.
"I can assure you they've put aside a considerable amount of money so that we can continue in the Conference. Surely the idea of a ground grading is to get the ground up to scratch by the start of next season. Why penalise the football club? We had a similar situation when the Main Stand was revamped in 2007. That was totally out of our hands in terms of when and who completed the work."
Bobbins' also questioned aspects of the latest Conference-driven revamp.
"Some of the issues like widening the dug outs and providing two extra turnstiles is hard to comprehend," he said. "Apparently there isn't enough room to accommodate all the officials and players in the dug outs.
"They also insist we need the extra turnstiles yet we have a certificate from the Norfolk FA, the fire safety officer from the police and Health and Safety giving us a capacity of 5,300. The Conference says that is not good enough but when are we likely to get a 5,000 league attendance?
"Even if we get a big cup game everything is re-appraised on a case-by-case basis."
Following an FA ground inspection in October 2008 the borough council set aside a �250,000 budget to increase the size of the changing rooms, to provide officials' changing rooms and a medical room for players. That sum also covered an upgrade to the floodlights.
Smaller items to be carried out by King's Lynn FC included improving signage, adding two extra turnstiles and providing additional room in the dug outs.
Cambridge City were demoted from Conference South in the summer of 2008 after failing a ground grading on terracing and turnstile issues at their Milton Road ground.