Linnets face appeal D-day
Paddy Davitt King's Lynn chairman Ken Bobbins wants common sense to prevail at today's FA demotion hearing - but admitted his club is in the wrong over their ground grading stand off with the Conference.
King's Lynn chairman Ken Bobbins wants common sense to prevail at today's FA demotion hearing - but admitted his club is in the wrong over their ground grading stand off with the Conference.
Bobbins will lead the Blue Square North outfit's bid to overturn their pending league expulsion in front of a specially-convened three member panel of Derbyshire FA officials.
Lynn's chairman insists the Linnets' warrant a reprieve - despite failing to meet a March 31 Conference deadline to commence a �250,000 upgrade on their council-owned Walks stadium.
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“In purely black and white terms we are wrong,” said Bobbins. “We couldn't start the work by the date they required but life isn't black or white and in this instance there are certainly many other factors that have to be brought into the equation. All we can hope is that the FA are prepared to listen.
“I think we've put a strong case together and if we get a fair hearing then I believe we must be in with a shout if they look at the overall picture. Clearly there's the fact that the council money simply wasn't available at that stage in their budgetary process to commence this work. There are also clubs who appear to have received leeway in these matters and that must form one part of our attack. Hampton & Richmond hadn't been granted council planning permission to build a new stand by the end of last season and they didn't have funding in place. You put that side-by-side with our predicament and we're in a far stronger position than they ever were.”
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Council representatives will attend the Derby hearing to reiterate public money is available to carry out the required upgrade prior to the 2009/10 kick off. Club solicitor Phil Hanby and Lynn's barrister from London-based law firm Blackstone Chambers will also be present as part of the Linnets' delegation. Conference secretary Dennis Strudwick heads the league's team.
“Once the Conference's initial decision was made we felt this was a path we had to go down,” said Bobbins. “But, quite apart from that, we do feel there is an injustice here and that double standards are at play. There doesn't seem to be much consistency on the part of the Conference - and I'm not just referring to this matter.
“We know for a fact two established teams in our league do not have floodlights which meet the required levels. You can't go around demanding King's Lynn be put out of the league and then let club x stay. That is just not right. This is football and matters should be decided on the pitch. I accept if you have a ground that is dangerous or unsafe then something has to be done. But in the current financial climate clubs are being forced to spend huge sums of money on areas we feel are not important. The net result is clubs potentially going out of business because they have to borrow money they can ill afford.”
Majority shareholder Michael Chinn has threatened to take Lynn's fight to the courts if the club's FA appeal fails - but Bobbins accepts that would have no bearing on the Linnets' short term future next season.
“I can't speak for Michael on that issue but the fact of the matter is it would make no difference,” he said. “As a club we would have to carry on in the league we are placed. Anything else regarding legal proceedings would take much longer to come to fruition.
“Of course as board we have contemplated the consequences of the decision going against us. If it does we just have to bite the bullet and get on with it but again we need to know what league we are in. I don't want the situation we had this time last year when three weeks before the start we were told we were in the North. There was no confirmation, no apology. We just had to try and get a squad together and we lost players as a result who were not prepared to travel. I believe it should be a fairly swift decision given the FA is under a fair amount of pressure to publish details of the league structures for next season.”
Our team will be reporting live from Lynn's hearing in Derby today. For the very latest breaking news and video reaction to the club's FA appeal visit edp24.co.uk/sport throughout the day