Wednesday 21 February 2018

Club's crowdfunding bid to pay loan

The proposed new look for Lincoln's Sincil Lane ground featuring an iconic Second World War Lancaster bomber (Lincoln City FC/PA)
The proposed new look for Lincoln's Sincil Lane ground featuring an iconic Second World War Lancaster bomber (Lincoln City FC/PA)
A Lancaster Bomber on the runway at nearby RAF Scampton

A football club is crowdfunding a huge Dambusters design on one of its stands in a bid to help re-finance a £380,000 bank loan.

Lincoln City FC is about to launch its fundraising campaign turning a 5,681-seater stand into a vast mosaic bearing the iconic image of a Second World War Lancaster bomber soaring above the historic cathedral city's skyline.

It comes as the club seeks to pay off a loan with The Co-Operative Bank, which is calling in its debt.

Kevin Cooke, club managing director, said the area had always had strong ties to The Dambusters' 617 Squadron, because of its being based at nearby RAF Scampton in wartime, so the bomber's image seemed the right choice.

A collection of Imps' supporters, who lead the singing from the stands during the Conference Premier side's games, are affectionately known by the squadron's name, while The Dambuster's March is played before the start of every match.

Until recently, Mr Cooke said a group of fans used to ring a wartime-style air-raid siren every time the home team earned a corner - a tradition he was hoping to bring back at the Sincil Lane stadium.

Mr Cooke said military officials at Scampton had already given their blessing to the mosaic, which would include the RAF's iconic red, white and blue Roundel symbol.

Club bosses said seats would sell for between £40 and £250, depending on what part of the design the seat fell within - with a spot within the Roundel commanding a higher premium than surrounding areas.

Buyers would get a certificate identifying where their seat was, and a lapel badge, but it would not entitle them to use it on match days.

There were plans afoot for a commemorative photograph to be taken of all the buyers sitting in the stand, once the campaign was funded.

Mr Cooke explained that initially the fundraising idea had been thought up just to raise cash for the club rather than go to pay off the bank, but the Co-Op Bank had been keen to call in its loan.

"In the New Year, we came up with an idea encapsulating Lincoln and its heritage, with the cathedral and The Dambusters.

"At the same time, the Co-Op Bank put more and more pressure on us.

"So it seemed as good a cause as any, to help us pay the debt."

He said the club could raise up to £300,000 from the sales of seats, once the cost of the mosaic was stripped out.

Mr Cooke added any shortfall could be picked up with commercial deals, raising money off the back of what club bosses hope will be an impressive feature at the Co-operative Community Stand.

Crowdfunding, where numerous backers pledge money to a campaign or start-up project, is a recently occurring global social phenomenon allowing people to back causes or businesses that might otherwise not attract more traditional forms of investment.

In the club's case, its pledges will be taken online through a new website, with that page set to go live on March 12.

Until then, would-be backers were being invited to make enquiries by emailing officials at dambusters@redimps.com, with more information due to go on the club's site www.redimps.com from tomorrow.

Press Association

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