King's Lynn FC to fold

Paddy Davitt King's Lynn Football Club will fold today. Chairman Ken Bobbins confirmed the worst after failed talks yesterday with both the FA and a potential saviour to resurrect an 11th-hour rescue bid.

Paddy Davitt

King's Lynn Football Club will fold today.

Chairman Ken Bobbins confirmed the worst after failed talks yesterday with both the FA and a potential saviour to resurrect an 11th-hour rescue bid.

Lynn's winding-up petition will finally be rubber-stamped in the High Court - ending 130 years of footballing history at one of Norfolk's oldest clubs.

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The FA refused to sanction a possible takeover deal which hinged on sole ownership for a new buyer of the debt-ridden Unibond Premier Division outfit.

“It's a dead end unfortunately,” said Bobbins. “I've spoke again to the chap who was interested and he is of the same opinion as me. We can't understand why this is even an issue.

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“He's involved in another non-football club in the town and a sport that is probably governed far more stringently due to the safety aspect of that sport - yet he is able to operate as a sole trader. To me it smacks of the FA trying to come up with a reason as to why we can't do this.

“From a creditors' point of view, surely it would actually be better to have only one point of contact if the need ever arose. I still remain to be convinced that there is something actually in their rule book to that end.”

An FA spokesman insisted football's governing body had to abide by stringent guidelines on ownership.

He said: “Rules are in place for good governance of football. A sole trader does not fulfil those obligations and those rules are in place for a very good reason. They apply equally to all clubs so it would be unfair to suggest it is the FA who has put King's Lynn FC in this position.

“We've spoken to the chairman of the football club and we have tried to explain why those rules are in place. Not only to protect the wider world of football is it necessary that debts can be repaid and to ensure we protect the integrity of the game but also to protect clubs set up in the right way.”

The EDP has obtained a copy of the FA letter sent to Bobbins in which officials from the governing body insist sole trader status would breach FA rules relating to financial records.

It reads: “The FA has winding up provisions under Rule I 2 that state what happens to any surplus assets in the event that a club is wound up. Rule I 2 could not be applied to an individual trading as a football club. A club may not be operated by a sole trader. The FA is not aware of any club playing senior football that is currently playing/trading as a sole trader.”

The FA letter goes on to state Lynn's current memberships of the Northern Premier League and the Norfolk FA are currently held by the company that has been wound up. Those memberships would not be transferrable without the consent of both parties and the FA.

Bobbins admitted Lynn had just run out of time to even consider launching a belated legal challenge.

“I have to say the FA person I spoke to was very, very sheepish,” said Bobbins. “To me they've had two full days to get a response together and all he kept saying to me was that he felt uncomfortable with this whole issue. With the greatest will in the world we have a club that is going to go down on Wednesday and he is uncomfortable. I would expect something more tangible from the FA than that. Even if we could do anything our solicitor clearly wouldn't have any time to study the FA's ruling.”

Lynn will now officially be wound up in the High Court today over an unpaid �77,000 tax bill to Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs.

“We'll see if our solicitor has to attend from a legal standpoint but no one from our end will go down,” said Bobbins. “There really is no point. We have the tax money but we don't have the guarantees in place to pay the other debts moving forward.”

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