Category Archives: Financial

Imps Trust Faces Breach of Contract Claim From Michael Foley

Lincoln City Supporters Trust is the subject of a legal action from Gold Member Michael Foley, forced to issue a claim for breach of contract following the non-delivery of shares in Lincoln City Football Club.

The statement from O’Neill Patient Solicitors LLP is as follows.


Mr. Michael Foley will today issue a claim for breach of contract against Lincoln City Supporters Society Limited (the Trust). The claim concerns the non-delivery of shares in Lincoln City Football Club (the Club) to which Mr. Foley is entitled as a fully paid-up Gold Member of the Trust.

Solicitors acting for Mr. Foley, a former Associate Director of the Club, have also referred the matter to Lincolnshire police as part of their ongoing investigation into the financial affairs of the Trust.

No further statement will be issued at this time.

Date 6 January 2014


Budget: Is It Time For Trust To Be Critical Friend?

Alfreton Town, Welling United, Tamworth, Woking, Southport FC, Nuneaton Town, Tamworth, Braintree, Dartford FC and Hyde FC are all considered part time.  Yet with three training sessions a week they could be labelled as what Lincoln manager Gary Simpson has recently described as part-time in disguise.

Perhaps this is why Lincoln struggles to beat sides who have superior budgets and look to raise their game in order to gain the scalp of a big team. The real issue and reality check for Lincoln fans, is that the club is anything but a big team when it comes to the playing budget. The forecast budget is still less than that enjoyed by David Holdsworth last season, this, despite better than expected season ticket sales, higher admission prices due to the closing of the home end and better average crowds than last season. 

After an interminable half decade of misery and decline, the team finds itself mid-table yet we are failing to play the dream football that fans wish to see.  At £18 for an adult they do have a point, but the economic reality and real issue is the competition from the 23 other Conference clubs that the Imps are struggling to match. They show ambition, they inspire, while a club with the potential of Lincoln, does anything but shrouded behind  non disclosure agreements that frustrate fans and keep them in the dark.  Who would like answers on the Stadium, the recent supporter director elections etc etc etc? What about a fans forum and not one that shortens a Trust or club AGM?

But back to money, the route of all evil it would appear. Lincoln and Macclesfield have the lowest full-time budgets in the Skrill Premier League, dwarfed by Luton, Forest Green, Grimsby, Wrexham, Cambridge, Kidderminster and Gateshead.  But these disguised part-time sides are also outspending the club thanks to rich benefactors and commercial deals that allow them to punch above their financial weight.  While geographically challenged Lincoln cannot afford more than 5 overnight stays, Salisbury identified and funded the 15 they face before a ball was kicked in earnest.

When we look at the performance on the pitch of Alfreton, Salisbury and Welling, they are doing so because they have the ability to fund better loans and can pay wages in excess of ours.  Lincoln have an average of £350 per week, but many of our part-time competitors can easily offer far more – sometimes double – our highest earners. Surely everyone realises consistency costs and that you get what you can ultimately pay for on the creative and goals front, which is the lifeblood of the sport.

Alfreton, Welling, Woking and Tamworth all have bigger playing budgets than Lincoln despite our gates.  Southport and even Nuneaton are certainly on a par with the Imps, but able to pay money and get loans that are out of our reach. Only Hyde, Braintree, Dartford and Macclesfield have an inferior budget to Lincoln, but their geography is less challenging when it comes to attracting talent.

We cannot really do anything about it any more either, the dye is cast.  The Trust historically appear in fans eyes to be anything but a critical friend, despite the two long-term gold member and supporter director reigns on the board of the club. The 1 million shares have gone to the Holding Company and even the current supporter Director is now a business partner of one of the board members on the Holding company, suggesting a cosy closed shot relationship remains. All we can do is keep faith it appears and be thankful the club is still in business even if it had to give away the fans crown jewels to sustain itself without any long-term guarantees.  Not that we had a vote on it of course  – this at of all clubs, the one Supporters direct once saw as the model community club.

Please note we have omitted the actual figures for each club for legal reasons, alas, as our regular readers are aware, STMI does not have the legal backing to publish the full truth as bigger publications would.

Ambition Costs ask Hull City, Doncaster and Scunthorpe.

Doncaster Rovers, Scunthorpe United and Hull City used to be League rivals to Lincoln City but all have dared to dream while we have been happy with a lot in life that sees us drop from the League  with apparently no real ambition to return. When are we likely to play Donny, The Tigers or The Iron in the League again? It hurts almost as much as the death by a thousand cuts our club is enduring.

thanks for reading Neil Gentleman-Hobbs.

Lincoln City F.C. badge.pngHull City badgeDoncaster Rovers FC.pngScunthorpe United FC logo.svg


Doncaster and Scunthorpe have recently tasted the Championship on two occasions, eclipsed by Hull now back in the hallowed Premiership, but having shared fourth tier status with them all. the Imps in contrast have preferred the safe option as the way forward in what is an entertainment and results led business. Rovers and The Iron have had their downs but their set-up has enabled them to attract new owners and investment. Lincoln would have loved Peter Swann and the Wilcos millions, instead he chose the Iron over the Imps. The same can be said of Hull who also got into a mess but ambition has seen all three capture the imagination and ambition of  eager suitors, while the Imps have not. Lincoln still needed a bailout to avoid going back into admin again as attendances fell, budgets dwindled and relegation came calling to knock the final nails in the coffin to allow a Holding Company to take control.

Our rivals have put cash in on top of what the club generates on an ongoing basis, while at Lincoln £75,000 (most on that board only put in £50,000) gets you prawns for life while the faithful stump up £18 for non-League football. The manager may be generous to the board for their help but should we be, given a budget on a par with the part-timers who are beating us in front of their sub 800 gates?  The Lincoln fans have also lost their stake in a once vaunted Community club, with  1 million shares going into a Holding Company that has still not decided what is going to happen with our last remaining crown jewel  – the very church I am still banned from going to – the ground.  But naturally we should be thankful and take our frustrations out on the only bloke at fault, with the perennial manager bashing now getting into full swing ahead of a Cup tie that might just help the cause.

The succession of managers has been blamed yet in reality surely it is the constant at the heart of the club and not the variables that has to be to blame, as the fans start to question the latest to be given the poison challis.  This is one who has kept them up and with a bottom eight budget, now been lambasted that a promising start has led to mid-table mediocrity.  Normally a manager gets the push in October so the latest is doing well, but for all his hard work a growing number feel he is on borrowed time.

Cautious tactics are to blame and the under-performance of a reasonable quality squad prepared to play full-time for £350 a week plus a weekly bonus if they are in the top eight.  Is it any wonder the excuses are consistent with the manager backing a hard-working side that is struggling to score but going down narrowly to part-timers in front of 746 fans – of which 167 were travelling Imps.  These part-timers are paying some of their lads 2-3 times what Lincoln City can afford and willing to pay to fund overnight trips while the hat went round amongst Imps fans sites after we appealed for the funding of two for our team. Are we really that rinky-dink now?

Next up is part-time Southport, paying a new striker £525 a week plus accommodation and bonuses on top.  Yet Lincoln with a much bigger turnover than Port cannot compete, lost to Welling and Salisbury who have agreed to fund 15 overnight trips for their team.  Geography works against us both ways because they visitors to Sincil Bank are small enough to put in a Community stand that could be confused with a secondary school bike shed or supermarket trolley station.

Quite where Lincoln City spend their money is not something I want to go into, well not again anyway because budget questions and freedom of speech costs at Lincoln City, the former community club.  Don’t ask for any help from the Supporters Trust which is anything but a critical friend these day, that’s if it ever was, with legal action pending and a track record that brings tears to the eye. Then again so does having to doff your cap and be thankful for what we are and where we are.  The club deserves better and, when we laugh at Grimsby losing £450,000 last year just think on.  They are playing Scunthorpe next week and their crowd could top 8,000.  That is another £60,000 each in the kitty of both clubs plus the chance of £18,000 prize money.

The Mariners are not going under and continue to inspire their fans by putting in cash and not just expecting the club to generate a miracle funded by fans and commercial sponsors who will put love above the risk of being associated with a losing brand.  Alas at Lincoln the game plan is caution and we can see how that is working in the face of 16 clubs with far superior budgets who are a mix of part-time and professional NON-LEAGUE clubs.  And bar an optimistic spurt at the start of this season we can see how that is working for us as a club can’t we.  It is probably also leading to a smaller and smaller new ground as every year goes by.

Is there a light at the end of the tunnel? Being an optimist is what being an Imp has always been about, well that and being able to lump it I’m afraid. For a start the fans need to give this manager and his players continued backing because they are the underdogs and so are we, so we need to stick together.  Given the fact that fans and citizens in an otherwise thriving city have turned their back on the lack of ambition and overpriced product, we need to don’t we? Or at least start asking the right questions of those who are custodians of a local institution that do not seem able to match the ambition we have for our club.  If they did ex-Imps might stop going to Nottingham to watch their football or sitting at home in front of the telly and adopting a Premier League pet.

Who will volunteer to turn out the light before we get our coats then?

What Is Keeping Lincoln City Going?

Aldershot Town will provide the toughest test since Luton Town and Cambridge United to the Imps play-off pretensions tomorrow.  The Shots have pace on the flanks and pass the ball in princely fashion, possessing a technique and tenacity that forced a 3-3 draw with Luton, who are now scoring for fun under John Still, suggesting the Imps defence will be at full stretch against a 4-1-4-1 or 4-3-3.   Yet tomorrow we face more than that, confronting a club that ultimately condemned us to non-League football and one that triumphed in the face of extinction for the second time in a decade.  Hope springs eternal then that one day 8,000 will flock to the bank once more?

Thank you for reading Neil Gentleman-Hobbs


 Lincoln City F.C. badge.png 

The visit of Aldershot  should see a decent crowd of sorts this Saturday with the Shots averaging 216 on away-days thus far this season.   The distance will play a factor of course, something that Lincoln and Grimsby face due to the county’s isolated geography.  The home crowds are certainly up, but, Grimsby, Luton, Cambridge, Chester and Halifax aside, it is unlikely that many more adversaries will break 100 if we are lucky.  The 16 Lambs on Tuesday illustrated the Imps problem and this ultimately will shape the capacity of any new stadium. Yes it was a Tuesday but that was a quarter of their average take of 60 and one cannot polish a Doner Kebab either it seems?

Whilst Aldershot have taken the Chelsea shilling Lincoln in comparison is akin to the hare meets tortoise approach. We have recovered too and this season, is part of a long-term plan for both the mysterious ground move and the manager’s team building plans, but time, patience and the realities of non-league football are also unseen enemies of course. A bottom third budget, it is hoped, will deliver a top third finish; seen in the context of the previous four managers efforts this should be seen as something of a result. From a players bonus perspective – a vital part of their wage – it is imperative, yet a good season this year is perhaps more vital than we think.  The game and the gap, after all, is growing as it continues to move on without us

Time, perhaps the greatest of all of life’s enemies, is not on the Imps side with the current team offering the best opportunity Lincoln have of making a return to the Football League. During the January window the chances are 2-3 players will leave with Newton, Miller and Boyce the obvious candidates. They will bring in decent money, but replacing them on the cheap is getting harder even for a talent-spotter like Simmo, who raided relegated Stockport and financially stricken Macc in the summer to maximise a paltry £400,000 budget.

Unfortunately our full-time wage structure cannot compete with the lucrative part-time deals enjoyed at Skrill North or Premier level, we must hope the board say no and allow the manager to have this Indian summer at the Imps. But that is unrealistic as the players do deserve to ply their trade at higher levels and to earn a living wage in a profession that typically yields a living for just 6 to 8 years.

This leads to public perception of the club, which is declining by the season, even if the crowds are up this season.  Despite much higher than expected season ticket sales as well increased pay on the day takings this years playing budget is still lower than that afforded to David Holdsworth at the beginning of last season.  Therefore the club is punching well above its weight on the field in the face of ever decreasing circles and ultimately the laws of diminishing returns.

The location of the club and the pricing add to the low away followings data (HERE) statistics that are staring us in the face. Therefore the size of any new ground behind Morrisons is looking more likely to be much smaller than Sincil Bank.  This will save us rates with supposed non admission income being more and more important, with the Chesterfield model cited. Yet in reality their rich chairman will make up a huge shortfall that has allowed them to overshoot their budget again this season in order to go for an instant return to League 1.

Frustrating as Tamworth was we simply have to keep the faith in this side if the club is to be in a position to counter these problems, indeed to survive, let alone hope to thrive.  The Lambs had players of Championship calibre, League 1, League 2 and a young Premiership cast-off in their ranks, compared to Tommo with 9 League 2 appearances along with Brown who played 18 bit-part appearances in League 1 under Jacko at Huddersfield before being released. There was of course the additional presence of Fairhurst, introduced on the hour, with a 100 appearances to his credit.  So praise them on Saturday against another side, back from the brink but with superior resources and, remember that 10 point deduction has masked the League position that 19 points could have yielded.

The reality is hard for disenfranchised fans of our once proud club to stomach, but at least the crowds are up this season, reversing a concerning trend since we entered the non-league half-way house to the abyss . This is just as well because who is going to put their hands in their pockets to plug the gaps, let alone fund the dream, when, fans apart, few want to pitch in for vital overnight stays enjoyed by even the Salisbury’s of our world. Remember geography counts against us away just as much as it does at home, those are the hard earned points that get you prizes.

Simmo and the team have done incredibly well, more than punching above their weight. Team spirit and resilience resonate, yet the team do play football and certainly create chances even if they do fail to take them at the vital times that will turn the one point into three. Perhaps now we see why Jacko (blind optimism), Sutton (youth & science), Tilson (quality but imbalance) and Holdsworth (quantity wheat-from-chaff approach) failed in fans eyes. Ultimately Football League tables judge them, but it takes a rare man to overcome financial football odds.

So this has to be a great season one feels, with a play-off berth at least and, perhaps this will tempt someone with sufficient cash to come forward and buy out the Holding Company, to then service the debt and ultimately put funds into the team – the be all and end all in an entertainment business that is growing ever more lucrative at the top. Until then the option of saving 2-3 players wages on the rates and a ground of 5,000 with plans to increase or decrease capacity looks to be the realistic option to sustain football in the City.

We do of course have optimism and hope, they more than money have sustained Lincoln City and the passionate ‘Cits’ latterly Imps since 1884. So what is the concise answer to the question What is keeping Lincoln afloat? It is the Spirit and optimism that flows from the manager and the team to the fanatical, often ignored but not to be underestimated and understated, support that keeps the heart of the Imp beating It has done so ever since he escaped the cathedral and the angel who threatened to turn him and his heart to stone.

Please Give Fans Backing for Funding Imps Away Trips

The STMI call for the funding of overnight stays in the Imps promotion quest back on September 19th (Let’s Make Imps Away Days Even Better) has seen two trips now funded. The first sees a joint venture between the fan’s sites Lincoln City Banter and Vital Lincoln, with a second mystery fan also offering to fund a £1500 overnight stay for the team, leaving just 5 more to fulfil this season’s requirement.

thanks for reading Neil Gentleman-Hobbs.


Lincoln City F.C. badge.png 

As we highlighted in our previous call for help, The Imps have 10 long trips that Simmo sees as vital for the club to sustain a play-off push. Three of the directors agreed to do so, so now with the additional two, there are just 5 needed if our lads are to be afforded the same playing field as recently promoted Salisbury City.

So the big question is who will help?

The Lincolnshire Echo funded one for David Holdsworth last year – will they do the same or perhaps even put an appeal out to local businesses and fans in next week’s publication?  Would BBC Radio Lincolnshire be able to do the same on the Friday night and Saturday Broadcasts? But most of all – and we exclude Bob, the Two Davids and Chris Moyses here – maybe some of the other prawn munching board can put their hands in their pockets to help (no white fivers or notes where the queen is winking or blinking will do though). They can afford it far more than the 400 or so that will pay to get in at Nuneaton and sing their hearts out for the lads.

Reality Check! Welcome To Lincoln

Gary Simpson cannot in truth fault the effort of the Lincoln City players after a disappointing 0-1 defeat at Hereford United.  A reality check is long overdue one feels for fans, media spectators and those at the helm of the football club.  Time for credit where credit is due, because it is so easy to criticise when in reality we are what we are and the answers are not out there any time soon.

Thanks for reading Neil Gentleman-Hobbs.

Lincoln City F.C. badge.png  

Firstly let’s deal with this notion that Lincoln, without question a big team, appear to be ‘bullies’.  It is making the team’s life harder because this misconception may have led to a referee dishing out 6 yellow cards last night in a game that saw 15 fouls for Lincoln, 13 for the Bulls, yet yielded 5 yellow cards for us and just one for the hosts.  Hardly just was it?


Then comes the issue of Lincoln not being attack minded, even though our shot statistics have been far better under Gary Simpson than, ‘Fer sure’, ‘Reg’ and Sutton.  Tomlinson does have to forage alone up front but he has three advanced midfielders to help and they do.  The full-backs are loading the guns but unfortunately the quality is not there when it comes to firing the bullets. There have been a few unfortunate near misses but we cannot realistically expect consistency for the money the Imps are paying.


Of course having the strikers to put away the chances costs money and our £400,000 budget tends to cut us out of the thousand pound a week that two thirds of the division can put the way of one or more strikers. Clearly such a low budget also makes many question why they should be asked to fork out £18 a match for the privilege.  Then add in the fact that the secretive ground move seems to be taking a higher priority than investing in the team (planning costs wont come cheap) and there we have the reality of supporting a non-league side like Lincoln with the potential to be so much more once that jolly old off-field income kicks in of course.


So well played for another hard working performance lads and good luck putting it right and staying there or thereabouts for the rest of the season.  At least we are not getting stuffed out of sight every week and looking like rabbits between headlights every time we defend a set-piece.



Sincil Bank: Grounds For Concern?

Sincil Bank will always be the Spiritual home of Lincoln City Football club, part of the Soul. Once a proper old School football ground, with that intimidating Clanford End and West Terrace down the side, it holds memories and spiritual ties for young wide eyed Imps as well as grown weeping men that witnessed miracles  as the Imps punched above their financial weight for years.

Thank-you for reading Neil Gentleman-Hobbs

The Clanford or Railway End

However the Imps can now afford the manager and our best squad for years one of the smallest budgets in the division – just £400,000 some £50-70,000 less than that afforded to David Holdsworth. The latest accounts to June 2012 showed a decrease to £1,655,505, a fall of £1 million from the year before. Staff costs were recorded as £1,233,948 for the period with £96,422 in depreciation and other operating charges of £619,423.  With the staff cost reduced clearly the loss of £230,053 should not be repeated, yet geography is certainly leading to bigger off pitch costs than on, something that is not sustainable long-term.

The frustration for fans will always be the performance of the football team, limited in size and ultimately quality by the Pro-Budget. Each year it seems to go down and down. Effectively prices went up £2 this year as the old home end, once the Clanford, now the Stacey West, was closed forcing fans to move to the Lincolnshire Co Op stand, but even with massively increased season ticket sales, the club again had to cut its cloth.

The Chairman, the two vice Chairs and Chris Moyses have put money in and continue to do so, those are facts,  whether everyone trusts their motives or not, their wallets and hearts do seem in the right place. As to the others, the now silent but very long-term custodians and board members of our club, that seems less clear.  Perhaps they might argue, well would you if an historic £50,000 or £75,000 injection came with a gilt edged promise that entitles you to prawns for life? It would be interesting to ask the board to blow away all the secrecy for a short while and openly admit how they have helped to ensure the team has the best possible pro-budget and therefore the means to compete and realise the rank and file Imps dreams?

Before we even get to whether the team should come first, or test whether the stadium is fit for purpose there is another undeniable fact. Despite the club still expected to enjoy a healthy seven figure turnover (crowds and sponsorship already appear up on last season), just over £400,000 is left spare for the team. With the well paid CEO gone and staff cut to the bone, clearly the fixed costs are still too high (rates and maintenance if any) and top-heavy in comparison to the most important part of the club to us fans – the team.

Therefore a move to a smaller cheaper stadium is inevitable and in the absence of representation, we will have to live with it because beggars can’t be choosers. Many will argue there is a profit motive (that is not for STMI to go into given the ongoing ban and our lack of legal funding), with a City centre location being swapped for a smaller stadium almost out of town.  But it could well give us the ability to compete on the pitch, because that is the only thing that will sustain the club. In reality Commercial sponsorship and turnstile clicks keep the club going, whilst the two board set-up allows people to keep sitting on their hands.

The media muted model seems to be Chesterfield, although there is no way we can afford and sustain something like that from this position.  It has its merits, with the realisation that turnstile income limits the potential of a club, with 24-7-365 income the obvious boost.  But, fact is, the Spireites have been able to overspend this season in order to go straight back up. That is because they have a board and, in particular a chairman, with the financial ability to ‘chuck in an extra three hundred thousand’ as and when needed.  We don’t so we will not be storming League 2 any time soon.

Leaving Sincil Bank is inevitable if this club is to survive. It is not the only issue that needs addressing by any means, but it will certainly help the team short, medium and long-term.  That the Imps profit on the pitch, will be the only thing everyone can agree on whilst the process trundles along behind the scenes. Thus, perhaps incredibly, the vast majority of lifelong stakeholders and alienated shareholders will play no part in the process, treated like mushrooms really, left in the dark until a well-timed media searchlight allows us to see what is going on.

It is the best the fans can hope for because the Lincoln City Supporters trust has shown little desire to engage or update members or fans for years, labelling those who ask questions as ‘Trust-bashers’. Did it sell its soul by denying its members the chance to debate and then vote on the million shares it gave away, or had that and its openness been sacrificed some years before?

Rose Tinted: Someone is Due A Hiding

Having taken on board the rest of the STMI columnist views I still feel this is the game where we will finally deliver.  Respect for the opposition is one thing but our beloved club has been beholden and doffing our caps for too long. Time for the Imps to shine our hooves, sharpen our claws and really bite back. Yes there are injury concerns but with fox-in-the-box Thomlinson and Fairhurst fit, plus Rowe, and Nicky Wright Wright Wright back I smell goals today.

Rose Tinted’s view 

Lincoln City F.C. badge.png V  Salisbury City FC.png

Look outside, the sun is out the sky is blue

and there ain’t a cloud to spoil the view

Everyone is suggesting a set-piece will settle it and, yes, that could be the breakthrough for either side.  But if Lincoln get one early, the long overdue goal feast could be on the cards to end Salisbury’s mini revival.  Newton or Rowe will supply it, Boyce will be at the heart of it and Thomlinson will feed on the scraps. Then for me it is a test of character for Salisbury. Will the Whites wilt or will they come back at us allowing Lincoln to cut them down on the counter?

A really good win would not only lay down another marker for the rest of the division, it would be great for the Banks.   Sincil Bank will continue to be a fortress with a 100% record where big and small teams will fear to tread. But the Co-Op Bank will also be pleased as the crowds start breaking through the 3,000 barrier. A 3 or 4 goal win would restore the faith of so many missing fellow Imps in both the Echo and The Lincolnshire Co-operative Stands. That will afford the manager a bigger budget ready for January, who knows maybe even Vadaine Oliver might come back on loan as we could afford a contribution to his wages if the manager allows.

Yes I am a silly old Optimist, but with a glass half full you always get to smile. Come on lads a big win will really set the season up and the response from the faithful will really take your breath away.

Conference Fans Must Back Grassroots Petition – nearly 18k have heard MP Crausby’s Call Already

STMI urge fans of Aldershot Town, Alfreton Town, Barnet FC, Braintree Town, Cambridge United, Chester FC, Dartford FC, FC Halifax, FGR, Gateshead FC, Grimsby Town, Hereford United, Hyde, Kidderminster Harriers, Luton Town, Macclesfield Town, Nuneaton Town, Salisbury City, Southport FC, Tamworth FC, Welling United, Woking FC, Wrexham FC, to back the petition to ensure grass roots football gets 7.5% of the from broadcasting rights. MP David Crausby’s petition already has 17,700 signatures so please get on board before the 20th September. Please get this on your forums.

Thanks for reading Neil Gentleman-Hobbs

HM Government

The petition, to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, calls on the Government to ensure that grassroots football receives financial support from the Premier League. At a time when Government cuts mean that many Local Authorities are no longer able to fund grassroots football transfer fees and players wages are spiralling to obscene levels and, very much wasting the bounty.  Similarly fees for basic facilities are climbing to the point where ordinary people are being priced out of our national sport.

The Premier League continues to grow in popularity around the world. Domestic broadcasting rights for 2013-14 to 2015-16 have been sold for £3bn, combined with global rights the Premier League could bring in as much as £5bn over the next three seasons.
This cash boost must not be wasted on ever-increasing wages for players when grassroots football is struggling. Just 34% of the starting line ups during the Premiership’s opening weekend were home-based talent
The Government must encourage the FA to ensure that 7.5% of money from broadcasting rights goes to fund grassroots football. If the FA and Premier League are unable to do so voluntarily the Government must be willing to take further action to make this compulsory.
Sign this petition and pass it on to everyone you know.
Current Number of signatures: 17,700
Created by: David Crausby MP
Closing Date : 20/02/2014 10:21

Gagging Law Will Change Football More Than Whistleblowers

The cases of Edward Snowden, the Guardian laptop incident and the NHS Whistle-blower scandal has beggared questions of the rights, wrongs and indeed the morality of secrecy agreements.   Such widespread use of non-disclosure agreements within Football, industry, commerce and the NHS have caused sufficient controversy of late, leading to legislation, that could do more damage to the game  than a poor referee.

Thank-you for reading by Neil Gentleman-Hobbs


MP’s begin to debate the issue on Tuesday. The legislation is not good news at present for it is asking them to back government plans to silence community groups, charities and campaigners. 38 Degrees, the incredibly successful on-line lobby group who started out with the Forest issue, is taking a stance on part 2 of the legislation HERE. The remit is however much wider, but should this go through ‘in a rush’ it will make things even harder for fans at what are quaintly referred to as community clubs.

Nowhere has this been more frustrating than at Lincoln City Supporters Trust an organisation that was once seen as a beacon within Supporters Direct.  Yet now it has become shrouded in secrecy, with Trust the last thing on anyone’s minds. The ‘critical friend tag has worn thin, particularly since it failed to give members a vote on a share transfer, an issue over a previous Secretary’s handling of the accounts (he was imprisoned for taking funds from a charity) and then failed to back four fans banned for political reasons – I am one of them…and… incredibly I can say no more due to, you’ve guessed it, secrecy rules.

Several ex-board members are effectively gagged by confidentiality agreements that come with office, yet, fans are none the wiser as to why 1 million shares were gifted to a holding company without a vote. Questions over election process and other issues including The Trust’s independence from the other two boards, will also remain unanswered until the law changes, hopefully, for the better.

Changes to the Law either way will be good news or bad for us, but it could have huge ramifications for football, an industry that uses NDA’s more than we realise. Most see  it as just part of the pay-off process when managers and players leave. No one wants to know exactly what is going on at our clubs, mystery is part of the magic, yet when discussions are taking place with regard to ownership of what is supposed to be a community club, is it right or wrong to keep fans in the dark. They after all are the only lifelong stakeholders in the club and therefore it falls well within the realms of public interest.