The Football Club Board was extremely saddened and frustrated by the need to cancel last Saturday’s pre-season friendly against Leicester City.
We share the disappointment of those good and loyal supporters of both clubs who were denied the opportunity to enjoy an afternoon’s football. A young man taking his first steps in the professional game was also let down because he lost the opportunity to sign his professional papers in front of a bumper Sincil Bank crowd.
We were frustrated that, after a close season in which the Club’s staff and Board and its supporters and their representative groups have worked so hard to raise the funds needed to stabilise our financial position, we have lost around £30,000 from the cancellation.
We were also frustrated that two groups who mistakenly believe supporting a football club requires them to fight can inflict so much damage on our club and spoil so many people’s enjoyment.
The Football Club and Lincolnshire Police have an excellent working relationship in which we ensure public safety remains paramount but are able to usually achieve this without high costs falling on the Club. The nature of the intelligence presented to us by the police on Friday afternoon left us in no doubt that the game had to be postponed. It was clear that groups of trouble-makers from Leicester and Lincoln had arranged to meet in our city and that serious public disorder was a real risk.
We view all disorder seriously and the fact that the intelligence suggested that trouble was going to be outside the ground made no difference to our approach. Lincoln City FC should not and will not be associated with any form of violence whether it’s in the ground or outside it.
Regrettably our prompt action did not prevent a large number of people from Leicester and Lincoln gathering in the city centre on Saturday afternoon, requiring Lincolnshire Police to have a large presence.
That the two groups were still intent on causing problems when there was no match to watch demonstrates that whilst football is used as an excuse for their unacceptable and unwanted behaviour, football is not the reason.
Unfortunately for far too many years small groups of people have attached themselves to the Club for the wrong reasons and have spoiled things for the fans who continue to back the Club through thick and thin. The Board of Directors wants to thank these loyal fans for their support and patience at times like this and condemns unreservedly the behaviour of the troublesome minority. We also want you to know the extent of the financial damage this has caused.
In addition to the loss of some £30,000 revenue from Saturday’s game we had already been forced to decline another high-profile pre-season fixture that would have brought in a similar amount due to concerns about public disorder. That is around £60,000 lost, along with two matches our supporters would have enjoyed.
Last season policing costs directly related to people trying to create public disorder ran to a five-figure sum and over the years their antics have cost our club a six-figure amount.
We had invited a large number of business guests to view the new T&R VIP Club on Saturday in the hope of securing more income for the Club. We had also been close to arranging a visit by potential overseas investors to be our guests at the game. Thankfully that visit is now taking place in the next few weeks otherwise the actions of this group of people could have had even greater financial consequences.
The Board of Directors believe that in maintaining the ethos of a community club individuals intent on causing disorder should have no part in supporting our club. Working with Lincolnshire Police we will be looking at all available options to ensure that this aim can be implemented.
Board of Directors
Lincoln City Football Club
6 August 2012