Why The Optimism At Lincoln City?

Optimism is a wonderful thing, but, given the budget at Lincoln, one has to feel a reality check is in order at a club that has, to use a cricketing euphemism, been batting below its achievable average for years.  So naturally the weight of expectation that comes with resurgence has something of a bubble nature to it. One prick and all could go into reverse, yet patience will deliver one feels.  Clearly this is a 2-3 year job for a manager on a mission to finish what he and Keith Alexander started before the Imps latest dark age set in.  We will need time and faith during another vital season for the future of football in our fair City. A cliché perhaps, but football is full of them along with simple home truths. But while the strikers keep scoring it will only increase the roaring.

thanks for reading Neil Gentleman-Hobbs.

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The players, fans and directors of the club feel the club has made massive strides, a level of progress that justifies a cautious level of optimism. The losses and catastrophic consequences of a half decade of failure are easy to learn from, hindsight in football, like life , is such a wonderful thing.  When the team saved the Imps Lincolnshire bacon last year, it not only turned a corner, but in reality saved our institution from certain ruin.  The wave of optimism that swept the city was wonderful, yet naturally not all are convinced. Indeed, and STMI is no longer the place for this, the club and the ‘supporters’ Trust could do more to heal historic and political rifts that a club of our size can ill-afford. The perceived cosy relationship with the local media also needs to be cleared up, or it too will continue to fester.

Football finances are as fickle as turnstile clicks. Stability is a term banded around in football, yet in reality it is a moving goalpost. A budget has to be constant, it is no good a benefactor coming up with a lump sum for a year if this cannot be repeated over a three to five year period. If a club fails the money has been spent, yet if promotion is achieved, where is the additional financial momentum to drive it forward.  Lincoln has not had a long-term financial benefactor since perhaps the days of John Reames. The £75,000 (until 2 years ago £50,000) in exchange for a directorship for life clearly does not help and undervalues the privilege of a perceived local institution.

Lincoln’s optimism for progress and sustainability this time around comes from good old fashioned incentive. Yes there is a genuine pride in the shirt, but bonus’s paid on success will supplement the wages. The baseline budget is at best bottom third in the division, yet the players know they will get their monthly cheques. On top of this, on-pitch success – being there or thereabouts – will give them a healthy bonus pool, incentivising every member of the side to pitch in.  A winning side is in everyone’s interest as it will lead to those vital turnstile clicks. So, potentially a positive self-fulfilling financial prophesy?

But is it sustainable? Nothing after all is guaranteed in football, 6 wins and one is a hero, 6 defeats a nervous zero, as long term and quantifiable as judging the length of a piece of string . It is hard to ask Imps to continue to go with blind faith, they after all are facing uncertain futures of their own, but to their credit 1150 season ticket holders are prepared to think pretty long term. In reality, if the club is to get back into the league it is only our money that will even the odds, we are the only stakeholders prepared to support the club through thick and thin. Clearly the bigger the budget the greater the chances of success, but at Lincoln that potential can easily equate to 1000 – 2,000 through the gate per game. Those season ticket sales are terrific but the pay on the day ‘scarfers’ are what will really help the momentum to continue, from here on in.

Even if Lincoln do just fail to get into the play-offs this season, it will be an incredible success after what seems a lifetime of mismanagement and failure on and off the pitch.  Remember this is a 2-3 year job for a manager on a mission to finish what he and Keith Alexander started before the Imps latest dark age set in.  We will need time and faith during another vital season for the future of football in our fair City. A cliché perhaps, but football is full of them along with simple home truths.  Lincoln and Lincolnshire is a hard-working community that perhaps relates to that more than any of hyperbole one normally associates with the much maligned people’s game.

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Posted on July 18, 2013, in Financial, Writers - Neil Gentleman-Hobbs. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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