Message-board Fear and Loathing at Lincoln City

Neil Gentleman-Hobbs is a Lincoln City and Arsenal fan who fell in love with the Imps having been talked into going by his son one evening,  This was soon after he had been on one of those birthday party deals the community club used to be so good at.  He, we, were bitten by the bug. Split allegiance should be hard, but true Imps make it easy to,  in the words of the Clan Anthem… Wise men say only fools rush in, but I can’t help falling in love with you. Although Neil tries to keep all his websites, STMI included, Football first – it gets the reads in all honesty –  inevitably we all need to peer below the surface occaisionally, perhaps while we still have a chance.  His son like many Imps, chooses not to go, but that flame still burns within, even though it may not show. If they still ask the score its a foundation if not quite a start.



Having studiously covered things on and off the field at Lincoln City for seven years now, one gets a huge insight as to why the club, in truth, underperforms to such an incredible extent. It is as much an insight into who runs this City, as much as those who would use the word Community in the same phrase as club, for their own agenda and ends. Contrary to popular belief the club and its legal and accountancy partners are frightfully good at PR, but strange as it may seem football seems to come way down the Sincil scale of things. The need to neutralise the message-boards does not. The word board-games came up when I  was prompted to spell check that.

But it is the methods employed off the field and, the obsession with the message boards that is the most staggering. Your sanity is questioned, not just for continuing to go but as part of the character assassination techniques employed by those involved with the politics always at the heart of the club.  It epitomises the amateurish, lackadaisical, culture at City, when some of the abuse comes through email boxes with the tell tale suffix.

Anyone with an opinion different to what, as Chris Travers refers to as the CABAL, is damned with the message board foot soldiers acting under multiple user names that have the shelf life of a pay-on-the-day ticket stub. With coordinated military precision the pincer movement gives the impression that they are in fact the vast majority Therefore that must be the widespread fan opinion –  but who would love to be privy to the email message groups or how big the membership of the secret forums such as this really are and what goes on?

Pure Imps? But are these the True Imps, who clearly cannot stand the disloyal drones?  These foot soldiers, do not need to be named and shamed but they include ex and current Trust cronies, who feel the end justifies the means. It is good for their little club – in their eyes little, the ambitious Imps however have always believe in better. To strive is to survive in football.

Some of the underhand cads, use proxy servers to hide their true ID although many are not what they seem.   They have destroyed Forums, silenced independent websites and ensured the positive propaganda reigns supreme, at the cost of apathy and alienation of the fans. 

Small time actions, small time thinking that have led to a small-time club that is dieing before our very eyes.  It has cost the club a PLC opportunity, which ironically would have broadened the ownership at a ‘Community club. It has driven Ray Trew to NottsCounty. It has kept Mike Foley from investing seven figures in the club. It is part of the culture that saw Chris Travers throw in the towel.

It gave us Bob because of the two he had more cash on the hip.  Yes in exchange for between £250,000 and £400,000, we have paved the way to losing our ground. How soon until Sincil Bank becomes beholden to the holding company?

This following fast on the heels of £1,000,000 great Trust share Giveaway, deemed not important enough for a full vote, when the mere canvassing of opinion would do.  But then tenants, if we are lucky,  have few rights, when land and capital half of the key factors of the four factors (land, labour, capital and Enterprise) have been frittered away by those who do not have a clue.  I may have been berated by the Trust as a Trust basher, but it is they who have shot themselves in the foot and been the architects of their own demise.

Were they aware that a consortium had gone to Bob, via Rob Bradley, but weeks before only to be turned down? If not then how did key trust board members not know?  But then if you were in the Holding Company’s shoes the future would seem bright, if not necessarily red and white. Surely such an opportunity and rate of return would find funding easy even in the current economic climate and surely seem appealing to all around the table. Especially with the existing development expertise and stakeholders on the board and letterhead of Lincoln City Holdings. Oh for an opportunity to buy shares in that.

It gets better. Any trading of shares within the holding company, now valued at 10p each,  can only be sold to other members of the holding company according to close inspection of the memorandum and articles of association. Therefore any clued up parties within the Holding Company could bag those Trust shares for say twenty thousand, over some prawns and a large scotch, even a hand shake and a promise to pay you later given the prudence and incompetence shown by the Trust board so far.

These are the same folk who did not allow the members a vote prior to the failed EGM, the last chance to save the club from the future fates.  Indeed the decision to help create the Holding Company and gift the shares was made just weeks after Rob Bradley and the latest consortium were turned down by Bob.  Yet on the message boards those of us who dared to suggest that there were those who would do Lincoln proud, were roundly turned upon with the usual coordinated and religious fervour and zeal. I don’t have to tell you who they are or air the dirty laundry, forget Jihad theirs is a belief structure that has spurned the Imphad. And we have been had, again and again.

That the Trust agreed all this has ensured own goals of titanic proportions. I would hope it was due to ineptitude as opposed to having any Trojan horse tactics employed. Either way, thank heavens long serving duo David Beck (The supporter Director) and Chris Ashton will have served the maximum 12 years of tenure by the end of this season. Good old Andy Townsend too, a good egg with his heart in the right place but does he really possess the skill set, to  represent the Trust board amongst the seasoned individuals on the Holding Company Board?

When Lincoln City Banter managed to get two members on the board of the Trust, you felt it was mere lip service, with the road blocks already in place. When I offered my services for PR and the website, I knew there was no chance. The expected blarney in fact. The email to the trust secretary with whom I had regularly and recently conversed, had been lost.  It would appear The Trust had suddenly needed to change its point of contact to a email address. As did the admin email box of the old Lincoln Imps forum that saw most of its posts deleted one evening.  What a great forum that was who remembers getting a reply prompt from (Curiously this is the name of the son of an ex-Trust chairman)

Alas,  I did not have the skill-set to run the Trust website. How many of you have either got web or marking advice from a guy who has authored hundreds of websites.? I have coordinated and handled the media side of things for several fans ideas, well before being airbrushed from the scene by folks who use the Trust basher lines, the mad one, the whiner and the cod head (apologies for being a Gooner as well as an Imp but you know where my heart lies and time is spent).

Let us not let facts get in the way, but I take my hat off to whomever this message board Machiavelli was. Credit where credit is due, for having a consistent and coordinated, indeed loyal band who feel that they are the righteous ones at the club who can employ ends that justify any means. One appreciates meeting ones match, in the face of the odds of the multiple user names and the politics that come with the Lincoln Turf. For that goes for football and commerce hereabouts.

The trouble is the Imp has turned – to even overcome the apathy the forum footsoldiers have helped to create. The band is growing. Having failed to shoot the messengers, you and your demigod Bob will be undone where it should always have counted. On the football pitch certainly, which is something most of us have far more interest in as the reading stats always show. But also, thankfully off it, with all fan groups finally coming together now that the era of divide and rule, finally seems to be coming to an end. Under the mantra of every little helps as the old Imp said weeing in the sea – YOU can help by clicking 1884 LCFC here. 


Posted on August 30, 2012, in Financial, Writers - Neil Gentleman-Hobbs. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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