Linnets fold but will never Walk alone

No Boxing day game for Kings Lynn fans after the club was wound up over a £70,000 tax bill. Richard Rae asks if it's really the end

Boxing Day at home with the family was an oddly unsettling experience for Neil Timms. As it was for thousands of others connected with Kings Lynn AFC.

"It was a strange, strange feeling," admitted Timms. "For the best part of 30 years Boxing Day has meant watching the Linnets. I thought about going to another match, but it wouldn't have felt right."

Supporters across the country will understand and sympathise. On 9 December, Kings Lynn Football Club was wound up by the High Court over an unpaid tax bill of close to £70,000. The arguments over how it was allowed to happen and who was to blame have gone on ever since, but the cold fact remains that a club formed in 1879, and which was highly placed in the Unibond Premier League with games in hand, no longer exists.

The contracts of the playing and coaching staff have been terminated, the council-owned stadium and clubhouse are locked up, and the supporters, who would have spent yesterday watching a derby against Boston United, found themselves facing cold turkey in more ways than one.

Four separate parties are now involved in talks with West Norfolk council about taking over the lease of the ground, known as The Walks, and the likelihood is that the club will be re-formed for the start of next season, although it will have to re-enter the League pyramid at least two levels below that of the Unibond Premier. The playing budget, which last season was reported to be over £10,000 per week, will also be much reduced. The council is expected to decide who will be given the chance to take over the lease next month.

The supporter

Neil Timms, chairman Blue and Gold Supporters Trust

"It's been an incredibly emotional time, and to say we feel devastated and let down by what's happened would be an understatement. We all felt powerless to do anything to save the club, but now we feel this is not the end of Kings Lynn's football club, but the chance for a new beginning. Depending on a benefactor is very dangerous. The only way to be sure a new club will remain viable is for it to be run by the fans, via a trust, and balance books by not spending more than is generated by gate receipts and commercial sponsorship."

The manager

Carl Heggs, understood to be among frontrunners for vacancy at Conference side Kidderminster

"It was devastating in so many ways, not least because we were flying, but the truth is that for too long the club had been run with the heart and not the brain. If a player wanted another £100, £200, even £500 a week, they'd pay it. When I first came there were 35-year-olds earning a grand a week. I built a new team, young lads who were getting £100, £150 a week, playing for a future in the game, but the debt had been growing for too long. It's the first Christmas period I've spent at home for 16 years, but my League experience playing for the likes of West Brom, and what I've shown I can do as a manager, means I've had offers from other clubs."

The player

Danny Gay, goalkeeper, considering offers

"I was brought up in Kings Lynn and supported them home and away before I signed for Norwich as a teenager, so coming back here was very much coming home. The players knew about the problems, but you always think it's going to be sorted; being without a club with four months of the season left isn't ideal, but we had a good team, and I think just about all the players are sorted out. The town, the supporters and all the volunteers are the real losers, but I'd still like to see someone with money take over, because Kings Lynn should be playing at a high level. Some of the supporters are on a power trip."

The businessman

Buster Chapman, owner of Kings Lynn Stars speedway team and the Norfolk Arena

"I'm not a football fanatic, but I've made my life in the town and it needs a football club – but a local club, with local players. It would take a good three years to get it running properly, but we've built one successful sporting organisation by being careful with what we pay, and that would be the model. Whoever takes it on will need good luck, and mustn't be too ambitious, but there are a lot of good people who have been let down, and they and the town deserve better."

Chapman, the former finance director David Handley, and a third unnamed consortium, are now vying with the supporters' trust to take over the lease.

Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
A poster by Durham Constabulary
news
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
Emily McDowell Card that reads:
artCancer survivor Emily McDowell kicks back at the clichés
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvBadalamenti on board for third series
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Standing room only: the terraces at Villa Park in 1935
football
Sport
Ben Stokes celebrates with his team mates after bowling Brendon McCullum
sportEngland vs New Zealand report
News
Amal Clooney has joined the legal team defending 'The Hooden Men'
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine