With a number of changes happening at Sincil Bank this summer, ElWriteBack speaks to the Imps’ overseas investor, Clive Nates about current situations going on within the club.
Following the appointment of Danny Cowley as manager in May. How big of a capture was this for the club?
The appointment of Danny and Nicky is a massive statement of intent by Lincoln City. There were other opportunities for them but they saw the potential at Lincoln City. They did exceptionally well at Concord Rangers and continued that in their first season at a higher level with Braintree. To get a part-time team that had finished 14th in the previous season up to third place and then only to lose in extra time in the play-off semi-final was a fantastic achievement. That achievement was recognised with Danny being named the Manager of the Year at the 2016 National Game Awards.
We are extremely fortunate to have been able to entice Danny and Nicky to Sincil Bank in their first year as full time managers. The boost we have seen in season ticket sales and the positive reaction of fans to their appointment has been extremely encouraging.
It was announced that Chris Bush was recently transfer listed by Cowley allowing the club to free up some funds. What type of players would you like to see come in if the funds were made available through this transfer?
Although we discuss the various players that are being targeted it’s not really about what I want but what Danny and Nicky feel is necessary to improve the team. It’s up to me and the rest of the directors to support them as much as possible to get the players they want within the constraints that we operate under. Danny has stated that he is looking for young, hungry players preferably under the age of 24.
What are you opinions on the possible departure of Matt Rhead? A player who was key in Lincoln’s starting 11 last season.
Danny has stated that he does not want Matt to leave but that if he does we need to be properly compensated so that we can replace our top scorer last season with an equally effective player. I would be sorry to see Matt leave after the impact he had last season but I am sure that Danny and Matt will work things out to the satisfaction of both the player and the club.
With new signing, Alex Woodyard turning down bigger offers to join the Imps, does this show City are a big side who have an appeal for high quality players?
I think it was a combination of Alex seeing the potential that Lincoln City offers as well as wanting to play for Danny and Nicky again. He has played for them at both Braintree and Concord and credits them with having a massive influence on his improvement as a player. That can only encourage other quality players to see us as an attractive destination.
What would Sam Habergham add to Cowley’s Lincoln side after being linked with a move to the club?
With Chris Bush on the transfer list and Greg Tempest having already departed it is clear that we are short of options at left back. Sam had a very successful season with Braintree and was rewarded with a place in the England C team. He would be an excellent signing but there are a lot of clubs interested in him, similar to the situation with Alex.
How confident do you and the side feel about a Football League return in the new season?
It’s not going to be easy as there are a lot of teams with far bigger budgets than us. But just as Danny and Nicky showed at Braintree. As well as Leicester City, Burnley and Accrington Stanley showed in other divisions last year, it’s not all about the money. I am excited about the coming season and hopeful that we will be challenging for promotion.
With your homeland being South Africa, do you feel you could look for potential talent to come to Sincil Bank?
We are trying to establish a relationship with SuperSport United in South Africa that would be mutually beneficial and which could see some younger players come on loan. There are, however, a limited number of players in the country with UK or EU passports.
With a number of pre-season fixtures against Football League sides including Jaap Stam’s Reading coming up. How will this test Lincoln ahead of the 2016/17 season?
I don’t think that the results will be that significant but it will be an important period as the players get used to the way the new management team will want them to play. There will be some testing games against Reading, Nottingham Forest and Crewe which I hope will also see some encouraging attendances.
Finally, with a number of young talents in the Lincoln squad, how do you think Cowley will include these in his side during the season?
I am hopeful that we will see a number of these younger players play a far more important role in the side this season. I am sure that those players not making the match day squad on a regular basis will be loaned out to aid their development. This will be made easier by the decision not to change the emergency loan system for next season.
I would like to personally thank Clive for taking the time to participate in this interview.
Proof read by Adam Keal, Callum Langlois and Nick Procter